Separation of cobalt and nickel by solvent extraction with two mutually immiscible ionic liquids†
The proof-of-principle for the separation of metals by solvent extraction using two mutually immiscible ionic liquids is given. Cobalt was extracted from the ionic liquid 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium chloride to the ionic liquid trihexyl(tetradecyl)phosphonium bis(2,4,4-trimethylpentyl)phosphinate. A distribution ratio of 44 was obtained. Cobalt could be selectively separated from nickel, with a separation factor of 207. The extraction mechanism was elucidated using UV-VIS absorption measurements. The mutual solubility between the two ionic liquids was determined by 1H NMR. Processing steps such as washing, stripping and regeneration of the ionic liquid phases are discussed.