Biodegradation of imidazolium ionic liquids by activated sludge microorganismsReport as inadecuate

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, Volume 26, Issue 6, pp 453–463

First Online: 13 October 2015Received: 08 July 2015Accepted: 06 October 2015


Biological properties of ionic liquids ILs have been usually tested with the help of standard biodegradation or ecotoxicity tests. So far, several articles on the identification of intermediate metabolites of microbiological decay of ILs have been published. Simultaneously, the number of novel ILs with unrecognized characteristics regarding biodegradability and effect on organisms and environment is still increasing. In this work, seven imidazolium ionic liquids of different chemical structure were studied. Three of them are 1-alkyl-3-methyl-imidazolium bromides, while the other four are tetra- or completely substituted imidazolium iodides. This study focused on the identification of intermediate metabolites of the aforementioned ionic liquids subjected to biodegradation in a laboratory activated sludge system. Both fully substituted ionic liquids and 1-ethyl-3-methyl-imidazolium bromide were barely biodegradable. In the case of two of them, no biotransformation products were detected. The elongation of the alkyl side chain made the IL more susceptible for microbiological decomposition. 1-Decyl-3-methyl-imidazolium bromide was biotransformed most easily. Its primary biodegradation up to 100 % could be achieved. Nevertheless, the cleavage of the imidazolium ring has not been observed.

KeywordsActivated sludge Biodegradation Imidazolium ionic liquids Intermediate metabolites Mass spectrometry Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article doi:10.1007-s10532-015-9747-0 contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Author: Ewa Liwarska-Bizukojc - Cedric Maton - Christian V. Stevens



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