Subtle Effects of Aliphatic Alcohol Structure on Water Extraction and Solute Aggregation in Biphasic Water/n-Dodecane

Andrew W. Knight, Baofu Qiao, Renato Chiarizia, Geoffroy Ferru, Tori Forbes, Ross J. Ellis, L. Soderholm*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Organic phase aggregation behavior of 1-octanol and its structural isomer, 2-ethylhexanol, in a biphasic n-dodecane-water system is studied with a combination of physical measurement, small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS), and atomistic molecular dynamic simulations. Physical properties of the organic phases are probed following their mixing and equilibration with immiscible water phases. Studies reveal that the interfacial tension decreases as a function of increasing alcohol concentration over the solubility range of the alcohol with no evidence for a critical aggregate concentration (cac). An uptake of water into the organic phases is quantified, as a function of alcohol content, by Karl Fischer titrations. The extraction of water into dodecane was further assessed as a function of alcohol concentration via the slope-analysis method sometimes employed in chemical separations. This method provides a qualitative understanding of solute (water/alcohol) aggregation in the organic phase. The physical results are supported by analyses of SAXS data that reveals an emergence of aggregates in n-dodecane at elevated alcohol concentrations. The observed aggregate structure is dependent on the alcohol tail group geometry, consistent with surfactant packing parameter. The formation of these aggregates is discussed at a molecular level, where alcohol-alcohol and alcohol-water H-bonding interactions likely dominate the occurrence and morphology of the aggregates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3776-3786
Number of pages11
Issue number15
StatePublished - Apr 18 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Spectroscopy
  • Electrochemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Subtle Effects of Aliphatic Alcohol Structure on Water Extraction and Solute Aggregation in Biphasic Water/n-Dodecane'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this