Outer-sphere interactions in metal solvent extraction systems
Item statusRestricted Access
Embargo end date31/12/2100
Healy, Mary Rose
This work aims to define the modes of action of a series of metal extraction ligands with particular focus on how these depend on the formation of supramolecular assemblies. Though solvent extraction processes are well established industrially often the understanding, particularly of the metal coordination chemistry, is less so. A greater understanding of a variety of solvent extraction systems can lead to the development of stronger and more specific extractants. Chapter 2 examines the role of inter-ligand interactions in the extraction of copper by phenolic oximes and pyrazoles. Computational methods are used to understand the importance of inter-ligand outer-sphere interactions in square-planar copper complexes. It is shown that functionalisation at different positions on the phenol ring can either stabilise or destabilise the copper complex and it is possible to predict the strength of extractants from DFT calculations. Substitution ortho to the phenolic oxygen in the oximes and pyrazoles can have a major effect of enhancing the strength of extractants by “buttressing” the H-bonding between ligands. However, in the amino-methyl substituted oximes buttressing is so strong that is has an adverse effect on complex formation. Crystal structures are confirmed by both ENDOR EPR spectroscopy and DFT structures. A series of 6-X-4-methyl-2-(5-alkyl-1H-pyrazol-3-yl)- phenols (X = H, OMe, Br and NO2) was synthesised and characterised (X = H, OMe, Br and NO2) and the copper extractant found to be 6-nitro-4-methyl-2-(5-(1,3,5-tri-methyl-pentyl)- 1H-pyrazol-3-yl)-phenol extractants. Computational DFT studies in the gas phase were carried out to calculate the formation energies of analogous phenolic pyrazole copper complexes. The predicted order of these energies followed the same trend shown by experimental solvent extraction studies. Studies also showed that substitution can affect not only complex stability through inter-ligand interactions through hydrogen bonding in the outer-sphere but also the strength of metal-ligand bonds. Chapter 3 looks at synergistic solvent extraction systems: where more than one extractant works together to provide additional strength and selectivity. Combinations of neutral N and O donor ligands with carboxylic, phosphinic and sulfonic acids were studied by solvent extraction, crystallographic and computational methods. Crystal structures and DFT-optimised structures show that ligands and acid form pseudo-tridentate ligands where both the neutral ligand and the deprotonated acid are coordinated directly to the metal centre with inter-ligand hydrogen bonding allowing for a more flexible backbone than a classic tridentate system. Although synergistic extractions systems often utilise carboxylic acids many of the structures show the similarities with systems containing phosphinic acids and it was shown experimentally that some extraction systems show greater synergism with phosphinic than carboxylic acid in the recovery of nickel. Chapter 4 deals with the extraction of molybdenum with commercial phosphinic acid extractant Cyanex 600. The propensity for molybdenum to form oxo clusters in aqueous solutions and the influence pH in both the speciation of the Mo species and extraction conditions contributes to a complex extraction profile. The pH dependence of extraction shows that different mechanisms operate at low (pH < 0) and high (pH > 0) pH. The extraction curve shows a conventional S-curve between pH 0 and 1.5 and slope analysis within this pH range gives a value very close to two but identification of structures which match this profile is complex. Maximum pH extraction is see at ~ pH 1.5. ESMS studies identified very similar species in the organic phase despite the variation seen in the S-curve. A survey of the structures of metal complexes of phosphinate ligands suggests that molybdenum-phosphinate complexes can often form cubane-like structure and negative ion ESMS data supports the concept of cluster formation in the organic phase. A common feature of the spectra are tetra- tri- and bi-metal- oxo species and spectra show a large number of peaks. It is very probable that the extraction of molybdenum(VI) with phosphinic acids is a dynamic system as extraction is influenced by the molybdenum speciation in the aqueous phase which is in turn influenced by both the pH and the molybdenum concentration both of which change over the course of a conventional extraction.