Novel aqueous biphasic system based on ethyl lactate for sustainable separations: Phase splitting mechanism

Ishara Kamalanathan, Zeljko Petrovski, Luis C. Branco, Vesna Najdanovic-Visak

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Ethyl lactate is a hydrophilic green solvent which is bio-renewable and biodegradable with low toxicity towards humans and animals. For the first time, we report that aqueous solutions of ethyl lactate separate into two aqueous phases upon addition of salts. The performance of trisodium citrate, disodium tartrate and disodium succinate as salting-out media for the separation of natural organic compounds, such as caffeine and catechin, from their aqueous solutions was examined. In this respect, cloud points for the ternary solutions composed of ethyl lactate, water and salt were determined at ambient pressure (0.1 MPa) at 298.2 K. Partition coefficients of caffeine and catechin between two phases were determined by chemical analysis of phases in equilibrium for different initial compositions at 298.2 K. The obtained results clearly demonstrate the ability of the ternary mixture to phase separate, providing good salting-out media for the efficient and sustainable separation from aqueous solution. 1H NMR spectroscopy was employed to elucidate the mechanisms of phase splitting in the ternary (ethyl lactate + water + salt) systems at molecular level. The discovery of aqueous biphasic system (ABS) containing ethyl lactate as hydrophilic solvent opens a new and green platform for extraction of various compounds from aqueous solutions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-45
JournalJournal of Molecular Liquids
Early online date5 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2018

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© 2018, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International


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