Are Alkyl Sulfate-Based Protic and Aprotic Ionic Liquids Stable with Water and Alcohols? A Thermodynamic Approach

Johan Jacquemin*, Peter Goodrich, Wei Jiang, David W. Rooney, Christopher Hardacre

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


The knowledge of the chemical stability as a function of the temperature of ionic liquids (ILs) in the presence of other molecules such as water is crucial prior to developing any no GO industrial application and process involving these novel materials. Fluid phase equilibria and density over a large range of temperature and composition can give basic information on IL purity and chemical stability. The IL scientific community requires accurate measurements accessed from reference data. In this work, the stability of different alkyl sulfate-based ILs in the presence of water and various alcohols (methanol, ethanol, 1-butanol, and 1-octanol) was investigated to understand their stability as a function of temperature up to 423.15 K over the hydrolysis and transesterification reactions, respectively. From this investigation, it was clear that methyl sulfate- and ethyl sulfate-based ILs are not stable in the presence of water, since hydrolysis of the methyl sulfate or ethyl sulfate anions to methanol or ethanol and hydrogenate anion is undoubtedly observed. Such observations could help to explain the differences observed for the physical properties published in the literature by various groups. Furthermore, it appears that a thermodynamic equilibrium process drives these hydrolysis reactions. In other words, these hydrolysis reactions are in fact reversible, providing the possibility to re-form the desired alkyl sulfate anions by a simple transesterification reaction between hydrogen sulfate-based ILs and the corresponding alcohol (methanol or ethanol). Additionally, butyl sulfate- and octyl sulfate-based ILs appear to follow this pattern but under more drastic conditions. In these systems, hydrolysis is observed in both cases after several months for temperatures up to 423 K in the presence of water. Therein, the partial miscibility of hydrogen sulfate-based ILs with long chain alcohols (1-butanol and 1-octanol) can help to explain the enhanced hydrolytic stability of the butyl sulfate- and octyl sulfate-based ILs compared with the methyl or ethyl sulfate systems. Additionally, rapid transesterification reactions are observed during liquid-liquid equilibrium studies as a function of temperature for binary systems of (hydrogen sulfate-based ionic liquids + 1-butanol) and of (hydrogen sulfate-based ionic liquids + 1-octanol). Finally, this atom-efficient catalyst-free transesterification reaction between hydrogen sulfate-based ILs and alcohol was then tested to provide a novel way to synthesize new ILs with various anion structures containing the alkyl sulfate group.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1938-1949
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Issue number6
Early online date15 Jan 2013
Publication statusPublished - 14 Feb 2013



ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Materials Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films


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