Gift Ifijeh, Dixie State University
It cannot be refuted that water is a precious resource, and society faces a challenge as the demand for clean water sources increases. Presence of heavy metal contaminants and other toxic organic compounds render water useless for consumption without going through extensive processing. However, some of the metal contaminants have market value; therefore, efficient extraction methods which support recovery of these precious metals are essential. Hydrophobic materials that have high affinity for target metals can sever as effective solvents in the biphasic extraction process. Ionic liquids, which are organic salts that exist as liquids at room temperature, can be designed to possess hydrophobic properties and can function as eco-friendly means of separating rare earth heavy metals. Additionally, the ionic liquids can also be used to extract and recover organic compounds such as biofuels. The focus of this research is the synthesis and characterization of phosphonium based ionic liquids, designed to exhibit high extraction efficiency of metals and organic compounds while exhibiting low toxicity to organisms. The ionic liquids were tested for extraction of various organic compounds, including biofuels, as well as for metal complexes. This new approach to extraction would support an environmentally friendly method of purifying contaminated water systems and for the extraction and recovery of commodity chemicals.