Berta Alcalde, Gemma Elias, Spas D. Kolev, José Alberto Méndez, Sergi Díez, Helena Oliver-Ortega, Enriqueta Anticó, Clàudia Fontàs

A Comprehensive Study on the Effect of Plasticizers on the Characteristics of Polymer Inclusion Membranes (PIMs): Exploring Butyl Stearate as a Promising Alternative

  • Filtration and Separation
  • Chemical Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Process Chemistry and Technology

This study investigated the influence of various plasticizers commonly used in the manufacture of polymer inclusion membranes (PIMs), such as 2-nitrophenyl octyl ether (NPOE), phthalates, adipates, and sebacates on the mechanical, thermal, and transport properties of membranes. Additionally, butyl stearate (BTS), chosen for its non-toxic nature compared to phthalates and its cost-effectiveness relative to adipates and sebacates, was evaluated as a plasticizer in PIMs for the first time. All plasticizers were incorporated in PIMs made of either cellulose triacetate (CTA) or poly(vinyl chloride) (PVC) as the base polymers and the task-specific ionic liquid trioctylmethylammonium thiosalicylate (TOMATS) as the carrier. The plasticizers were found to significantly affect the characteristics of membrane hydrophilicity, mechanical flexibility, and thermal stability. Transport experiments using Hg(II) as a model target ion revealed that, for CTA-based PIMs, the plasticizer did not significantly affect transport efficiency. However, for PVC-based PIMs, BTS exhibited better efficiency when compared to NPOE. These findings highlight the potential of BTS as an attractive alternative to currently used plasticizers in PVC-based PIM formulations.

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