Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 380, Issue 1, pp 168–177 | Cite as

Use of the ionic liquid 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium hexafluorophosphate in countercurrent chromatography

  • A. Berthod
  • S. Carda-Broch
Original Paper


Room temperature ionic liquids (RTIL) are molten salts that are liquids at room temperature. Their liquid state makes them possible candidates as solvents in countercurrent chromatography (CCC), which uses solvents as both the mobile and stationary phases. The study focuses on 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium hexafluorophosphate (BMIM PF6), an easy to synthesize and purify RTIL whose melting point is −8°C. It is shown that BMIM PF6 behaves like a solvent of significant polarity (comparable with that of ethanol). The ternary phase diagram water–acetonitrile–BMIM PF6 is given, because it was necessary to add acetonitrile to reduce the ionic liquid viscosity. The 40:20:40% w/w water–acetonitrile–BMIM PF6 biphasic liquid system was found to be appropriate as a biphasic liquid system for CCC. Different aromatic solutes, including bases, acids, and neutral compounds, were injected into the CCC column to estimate their distribution constants between the ionic liquid-rich phase and the aqueous phase. The resulting Kil/w constants were compared with the corresponding literature octanol–water partition coefficients, Ko/w. The important drawbacks in the use of RTIL in CCC are clearly pointed out: high viscosity producing pressure build-up, UV absorbance limiting the use of the convenient UV detector, and non-volatility precluding the use of the evaporative light-scattering detector for continuous detection.


Countercurrent chromatography 1-Butyl-3-methylimidazolium hexafluorophosphate Ionic liquid Distribution constant Hydrophobicity 



SCB thanks the European Community for the Marie Curie fellowship HPMF-CT-2000-00440 (Human Potential) and the foundation Caixa Castelló Bancaixa, both of which made this work possible. AB thanks the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique UMR–5180 for financial support.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratoire des Sciences Analytiques, CNRSUniversité de Lyon 1VilleurbanneFrance

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