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Abstract

Room-temperature ionic liquids (RTILs) are a moderately new class of liquid substances that are characterized by a great variety of possible anion-cation combinations giving each of them different properties. For this reason, they have been termed as designer solvents and, as such, they are particularly promising for liquid-liquid extraction, which has been quite intensely studied over the last decade. This paper concentrates on the recent liquid-liquid extraction studies involving ionic liquids, yet focusing strictly on the separation of n-butanol from model aqueous solutions. Such research is undertaken mainly with the intention of facilitating biological butanol production, which is usually carried out through the ABE fermentation process. So far, various sorts of RTILs have been tested for this purpose while mostly ternary liquid-liquid systems have been investigated. The industrial design of liquid-liquid extraction requires prior knowledge of the state of thermodynamic equilibrium and its relation to the process parameters. Such knowledge can be obtained by performing a series of extraction experiments and employing a certain mathematical model to approximate the equilibrium. There are at least a few models available but this paper concentrates primarily on the NRTL equation, which has proven to be one of the most accurate tools for correlating experimental equilibrium data. Thus, all the presented studies have been selected based on the accepted modeling method. The reader is also shown how the NRTL equation can be used to model liquid-liquid systems containing more than three components as it has been the authors’ recent area of expertise.
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