Electrochemical Studies of Imidazolium Carboxylate Adducts in a Room-Temperature Ionic Liquid

Monday, 6 October 2014: 15:40
Expo Center, 1st Floor, Universal 3 (Moon Palace Resort)
G. T. Cheek (United States Naval Academy), D. F. Roeper (Excet, Inc.), W. Pearson (United States Naval Academy), and W. E. O'Grady (Excet, Inc.)


     Recent interest in carbon dioxide sequestration has prompted much research into ways of forming compounds from CO2  (1).  One possible route for this process is reaction of CO2 with carbenes, which can be formed from the reduction of imidazolium cations (2).  This paper reports recent results in this regard, carried out in a room-temperature ionic liquid.


    All electrochemical experiments were carried out in a Vacuum Atmospheres glovebox.  Cyclic voltammograms were obtained on a PAR 283 potentiostat using PowerSuite software.  Potentials are reported with respect to an Ag/AgCl reference electrode. X-Ray diffraction structure determinations were run on a Bruker AXS Kappa APEX-II. 1-Ethyl-3-methylimidazolium tetrafluoroborate (EMI BF4 ) and 1-butyl-1-methylpyrrolidinium trifluoromethylsulfonate (BMPY TfO) were prepared by literature methods (3, 4).

Results and Discussion

    The electrochemical properties of EMI BF4 were investigated in the room-temperature ionic liquid BMPY TfO.   The EMI cation undergoes reduction at -2.2 V vs Ag/AgCl, followed by an oxidation process at -0.40 V on the reverse sweep.  Introduction of CO2 into the solution results in a rather large increase in the reduction process at -0.40 V, suggesting that the EMI+ reduction product can interact with the added CO2 in a catalytic process.  For comparison,  CO2 reduction by itself in BMPY TfO occurs at  -2.8V, so that the observed current increase at -0.40 V for the EMI+ / CO2 combination is not due to direct reduction of CO2.   In order to identify the reaction products from the EMI+ / CO2 interaction, voltammograms of the imidazolium – carboxylate adducts, 1,3-dimethylimidazolium-2-carboxylate and 1,3-dimethylimidazolium-4-carboxylate, were run.  The adduct structures were confirmed by X-ray structure determinations.  The reduction of these adducts occurs at -2.6 V and -2.4 V, respectively, with an oxidation process at -0.35 V on the return sweep.  These results support the formation of CO2 adducts with the EMI+ reduction product, probably a carbene. 


(1)    “Electrochemical CO2 Reduction on Metal Electrodes,” Y. Hori, Modern Aspects of Electrochemistry, Number 42, edited by C. Vayenas et al., Springer, New York, (2008).

(2)    A. B. Bocarsly, Q. D. Gibson, A. J. Morris, R. P. L’Esperance, Z. M. Detweiler, P. S. Lakkaraju, E. L. Zeitler, and T. W. Shaw, ACS Catalysis, 2, 1684 (2012).

(3)    S. Park and R. J.  Kazlauskas,  J. Org. Chem. 66, 8395 (2001).

(4)    L. Crowhurst, N. L. Lancaster,  J. M. P. Arlandis, and T. Welton,  J. Am. Chem. Soc., 126, 11549 (2004).