Disassembling and Reconstructing Ionic Liquids: Finding New Molecular Building Blocks for CO2 Capture Applications
Bara, Jason E.
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Research using ionic liquids (ILs) in gas separations is now entering its second decade. The versatility and tunability of ILs has resulted in a great number of unique materials (bulk solvents, reactive/reversible ILs, polymer membranes, gels, etc.) being produced for study in CO2 capture applications. Yet, given the advancements over the past several years in the state of IL materials development, there is a need to re-visit some fundamental aspects of ILs in order to broaden the opportunities for IL-based technologies in CO2 capture processes. We have turned our attention to understanding the fundamental properties of imidazoles – found at the cores of many ILs – as a means of better understanding and improving IL performances. By employing less common (but readily available) imidazole substrates as starting materials, new dimensions of control over thermophysical properties and chemical reactivity can be achieved. Via a synergistic experimental and computational approach, material properties can be rapidly screened and modeled, with feedback used to suggest new targets. Furthermore, during this process of disassembly and reconstruction, we have found new opportunities where imidazoles themselves may hold advantages as materials for CO2 capture applications.