The aqueous solutions are evaluated as sustainable reactive extraction solvents for the recovery of monohydroxyl alcohols (benzyl alcohol, 1-hexanol, cyclohexanol) present in few-percent concentrations in apolar hydrocarbons (toluene, n-hexane, and cyclohexane) by considering two approaches. An aqueous solution containing a reactive extractant, like borate salts, borate complexes, a monosalt of dicarboxylic acid, hydroxypropyl-cyclodextrins, and silver nitrate, shows limited potential to be used. Another approach, in which the alcohol is chemically modified prior to the extraction into an easy-extractable form, in this case a monoester/carboxylic acid, shows much more potential. An environmentally benign aqueous solution of sodium hydrogen carbonate can provide a distribution ratio of benzyl alcohol up to 200, leaving the solubility of the organic solvent in the aqueous solution unchanged relative to pure water and therefore increasing the selectivity with two orders of magnitude. The modification of aromatic, cyclo-aliphatic, and linear aliphatic alcohols can be performed efficiently in the apolar organic solvent without need for a catalyst. The recovery of the modified alcohol can be performed by back-extraction in combination with a spontaneous hydrolysis.
- polar hydrocarbons
- Reactive extraction