Sorption of imidazolium-based ionic liquids to aquatic sediments

J J Beaulieu, J L Tank, M Kopacz
Chemosphere 2008, 70 (7): 1320-8
Ionic liquids (ILs) have received much attention as "green" alternatives to traditional solvents because they do not evaporate, eliminating concerns over fugitive emissions. However, if ionic liquids are used in industrial applications, they may enter aquatic systems via effluent, and their fate and transport may be influenced by sorption to sediments. In this study, we conducted batch mixing experiments with four alkylmethylimidizolium-based ILs and four types of aquatic sediments to asses the capacity for natural aquatic sediments to remove these chemicals from the water column. The concentration isotherms were non linear with point estimates of the distribution coefficient (K(d)) decreasing with increasing concentration. Apparent distribution coefficients ranged from 7.9 to 95.7l kg(-1) at an initial concentration of 0.5mM and were positively related to sediment organic matter (SOM) content. These K(d) values indicate that the ILs did not sorb strongly to the tested sediments. Increased alkyl chain length did not lead to increased sorption suggesting that hydrophobic interactions were not the most important sorption mechanism. We conclude that aquatic sediments have a limited capacity to sorb alkylmethylimidazolium ILs and that the transport of these contaminants in aquatic systems will not be strongly attenuated by sediments.

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