Chinese Journal of Chemical Engineering ›› 2021, Vol. 29 ›› Issue (3): 42-55.doi: 10.1016/j.cjche.2020.09.047

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Insight into the behavior at the hygroscopicity and interface of the hydrophobic imidazolium-based ionic liquids

Guohui Zhou, Kun Jiang, Zhenlei Wang, Xiaomin Liu   

  1. School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Qingdao University, Qingdao 266071, China
  • Received:2020-08-23 Revised:2020-09-17 Online:2021-03-28 Published:2021-05-13
  • Contact: Xiaomin Liu
  • Supported by:
    The authors thank the financial support from the National Science Fund for Excellent Young Scholars (21722610) and Taishan Scholars Program of Shandong Province (tsqn201909091).

Abstract: How to completely remove the water from ionic liquids (ILs) is difficult for researchers because of the hygroscopicity of ILs. In order to study the hygroscopicity of ILs, two kinds of ILs, 1-Butyl-3-methylimidazolium hexafluorophosphate ([Bmim][PF6]) and 1-Butyl-3-methylimidazolium Bis(trifluoromethanesulfonyl) ([Bmim][NTf2]) were investigated by molecular dynamics simulations. Although [Bmim][PF6] and [Bmim][NTf2] are hydrophobic, both of the ILs could absorb water molecules from the vapor. In this work, the process of absorbing water from the vapor phase was studied, and the water molecules could disperse into the IL. Aggregation was observed with increasing the water concentration. Although the absorbed water increases obviously, the amount of free water and small cluster in the ILs does not change significantly and always stays at a certain level. The amount of free water and small cluster in [Bmim][PF6] is more than that in [Bmim][NTf2], which is consistent with their hydrophobicity. In addition, the liquid-vacuum and liquid–liquid interfaces of the ILs were simulated and analyzed in detail. The number density distribution and angle distribution indicated that [Bmim]+ cations arrangement regularly at the IL-vacuum interface. The butyl chain point to the vacuum, while the imidazlium ring is close to the IL phase region and perpendicular to the interface. While at the IL-water interface, the cations and anions are disordered.

Key words: Ionic liquid, Molecular simulation, Interface, Hygroscopicity, Cluster