Analysis of selected ionic liquid cations by ion exchange chromatography and reversed-phase high performance liquid chromatography

Piotr Stepnowski, Wojciech Mrozik
Journal of Separation Science 2005, 28 (2): 149-54
The chromatographic behavior of 8 ionic liquids - 7 homologues of 1-alkyl-3-methylimidazolium and 4-methyl-N-butylpyridinium - has been investigated with a strong cation exchange adsorbent. In particular, the dependence of the retention properties of these solutes on mobile phase composition, pH, and buffer concentration was evaluated with the aim of optimizing and improving the selectivity and retention of solute separation. While using the SCX stationary phase, several interactions occurred with varying strengths, depending on the mobile phase composition. Cation exchange, nonspecific hydrophobic interactions, and adsorption chromatography behavior were observed. Reversed phase chromatography occurred at low concentrations of acetonitrile, electrostatic and adsorption interactions at higher organic modifier concentrations. Elevated buffer concentrations lowered the retention factors without affecting the selectivity of ionic liquids. Obtained results were further compared to the chromatographic behaviour of ionic liquids in the reversed phase system. All analyzed ionic liquids follow reversed-phase behavior while being separated. Much lower selectivity in the range of highly hydrophilic compounds is obtained. This suggests preferred use of ion chromatography for separation and analysis of compounds below 4 carbon atoms in the alkyl side chain.

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