Benzyl-Functionalized Room Temperature Ionic Liquids for CO2/N2 Separation

In this work, three classes of room temperature ionic liquids (RTILs), including imidazolium, pyridinium, and pyrrolidinium ionic liquids with a benzyl group appended to the cation, were synthesized and tested for their performance in separating CO2 and N2. All RTILs contained the bis(trifluoromethylsulfonyl)imide anion, permitting us to distinguish the impact of the benzyl moiety attached to the cation on gas separation performance. In general, the attachment of the benzyl group increased the viscosity of the ionic liquid compared with the unfunctionalized analogs and decreased the CO2 permeability. However, all of the benzyl-modified ionic liquids exhibited enhanced CO2/N2 selectivities compared with alkyl-based ionic liquids, with values ranging from 22.0 to 33.1. In addition, CO2 solubilities in the form of Henry’s constants were also measured and compared with unfunctionalized analogs. Results of the membrane performance tests and CO2 solubility measurements demonstrate that the benzyl-functionalized RTILs have significant potential for use in the separation of carbon dioxide from combustion products.