Structural Design of Ionic Liquids for Optimizing Aromatic Dissolution

Haihui Joy Jiang, Silvia Imberti, Blake A. Simmons, Rob Atkin, Gregory G. Warr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Certain protic ionic liquids (PILs) are potentially low-cost, high-efficiency solvents for the extraction and processing of aromatic compounds. To understand the key design features of PILs that determine solubility selectivity at the atomic level, neutron diffraction was used to compare the bulk structure of two PILs with and without an aromatic solute, guaiacol (2-methoxyphenol). Guaiacol is a common lignin residue in biomass processing, and a model compound for anisole- or phenol-based food additives and drug precursors. Although the presence of amphiphilic nanostructure is important to facilitate the dissolution of solute nonpolar moieties, the local geometry and competitive interactions between the polar groups of the cation, anion, and solute are found to also strongly influence solvation. Based on these factors, a framework is presented for the design of PIL structure to minimize competition and to enhance driving forces for the dissolution of small aromatic species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)270-274
Number of pages5
JournalChemSusChem: chemistry and sustainability, energy and materials
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jan 2019


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