Reported herein are two functionalized crown ether strapped calixpyrroles, H1 and H2. As inferred from competitive salt binding experiments carried out in nitrobenzene-d5 and acetonitrile-d3, these hosts capture LiCl selectively over four other test salts, viz. NaCl, KCl, MgCl2, and CaCl2. Support for the selectivity came from density functional theory (DFT) calculations carried out in a solvent continuum. These theoretical analyses revealed a higher innate affinity for LiCl in the case of H1, but a greater selectivity relative to NaCl in the case of H2, recapitulating that observed experimentally. Receptors H1 and H2 were outfitted with methacrylate handles and subject to copolymerization with acrylate monomers and cross-linkers to yield gels, G1 and G2, respectively. These two gels were found to adsorb lithium chloride preferentially from an acetonitrile solution containing a mixture of LiCl, NaCl, KCl, MgCl2, and CaCl2 and then release the lithium chloride in methanol. The gels could then be recycled for reuse in the selective adsorption of LiCl. As such, the present study highlights the use of solvent polarity switching to drive separations with potential applications in lithium purification and recycling.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry