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Issue 4, 2010
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Anaerobic biodegradability of ionic liquid cations under denitrifying conditions

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Biodegradability and ecotoxicity of ionic liquids (ILs) are key properties for determining the greenness of IL applications, and have been increasingly investigated during the last few years. Former studies on the biodegradability of ILs were solely focused on the aerobic side. Nevertheless, the anaerobic biodegradation of many compounds plays an important role in the environment. Anaerobic respiration, especially nitrogen reduction, is widespread in the environment and is commonly used for waste water treatment. Therefore, we investigated in this study, whether ILs can be biodegraded under nitrogen reducing conditions. The primary anaerobic biodegradability of nine different imidazolium, pyridinium and dimethylaminopyridinium based IL cations was monitored via HPLC-UV over a time period of 11 months. Only for the 1-(8-hydroxyoctyl)-3-methyl-imidazolium cation (IM18OH), and a degradation could be observed and several metabolites were identified using LC-MS. Co-metabolism is sometimes the only way to degrade difficult substances. However, a possible co-metabolism of the substances by using acetate was not observed. All in all, the biodegradability of the tested ILs seems to be even worse under denitrifying conditions compared to aerobic ones. Nevertheless, the present paper aims to fill the gap concerning the biodegradability of ILs in waste water treatment plants. It gives a first insight into the biological degradation of ILs in the absence of oxygen, and provides further data for an appropriate hazard assessment.

Graphical abstract: Anaerobic biodegradability of ionic liquid cations under denitrifying conditions

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Publication details

The article was received on 07 Sep 2009, accepted on 23 Dec 2009 and first published on 08 Feb 2010

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/B918453H
Citation: Green Chem., 2010,12, 620-627
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    Anaerobic biodegradability of ionic liquid cations under denitrifying conditions

    J. Neumann, O. Grundmann, J. Thöming, M. Schulte and S. Stolte, Green Chem., 2010, 12, 620
    DOI: 10.1039/B918453H

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