Phase behaviour and conductivity study on multi-component mixtures for electrodeposition in supercritical fluids

Philip N. Bartlett, David C. Cook, Michael W. George, Jie Ke, William Levason, Gillian Reid, Wenta Su, Wenjian Zhang

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Electrochemistry in supercritical CO2 (scCO2) is difficult because the very low dielectric constant of the fluid restricts the solubility of ionic species and the conductivity of dissolved electrolytes. To overcome this problem to allow us to carry out electrodeposition at macroelectrodes from scCO2 we have investigated the use of co-solvents and modified electrolyte salts chosen to increase their solubility and dissociation in the supercritical fluid. Here we report results of phase behaviour studies for mixtures of CO2 with [NBun 4][BF4] and either methanol (CH3OH) or acetonitrile (CH3CN) as the co-solvent. These show that the solubility of [NBun4][BF4] is approximately 5 times larger when CH3CN is the co-solvent rather than CH 3OH. Consequently the phase behaviour of the ternary of CO 2-[NBun4][BF4]-CH3CN was studied in greater detail over a range of compositions. To enhance the conductivity of scCO2-CH3CN a range of electrolyte salts was synthesised in which the [NBun4]+ and/or [BF4]- ion were replaced by different derivatives. Results for the phase behaviour and conductivity of these modified electrolyte salts in scCO2-CH3CN are reported for several different compositions. We find that increasing the degree of fluorination and size of the ions increases the solubility of the electrolyte salt in scCO 2-CH3CN. Of the 11 electrolytes investigated [NBu n4][B{3,5-C6H3(CF3) 2}4] appears the most suitable for use in scCO 2-CH3CN with a molar conductivity of 22-26 S cm 2 mol-1 and a maximum measured conductivity of ∼3 mS cm-1 for 0.07 M [NBun4][B{3,5-C 6H3(CF3)2}4] dissolved in scCO2-CH3CN (molar ratio CH3CN: CO2 ≈ 0.12) at 20 MPa and 328.15 K. This is an order of magnitude improvement over similar results for the [NBun4][BF4] parent. Studies of the conductance as a function of the electrolyte concentration suggest that triple ions make an important contribution to the conductivity of the supercritical fluid.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)492-501
Number of pages10
JournalPhysical Chemistry Chemical Physics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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