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Ethylammonium Acetate as a Mobile Phase Modifier for Reversed Phase Liquid Chromatography


We have synthesized the low melting hygroscopic ionic liquid ethylammonium acetate (EAA) and characterized a concentrated solution of EAA as a reversed phase mobile phase replacement for organic solvents like methanol. This solution of EAA acts like an organic solvent with a polarity parameter (P’=6.0) similar to methanol (P’=5.1) but less than water (P’=10.2). A test mixture of salicylate, nitrofurantoin, and acetophenone was separated in this order on C1, C4, and C18 columns using an EAA modified aqueous mobile phase. On a C-18 column, the reduction in retention factor for acetophenone from about 20 to 2 as the % EAA is raised from 20–80% is similar to the same trend found using methanol. However, the retention order using methanol is first nitrofurantoin, then salicylate, and finally acetophenone. Log retention factor (k) versus the volume fraction of either EAA or methanol plots were linear indicating the solvent strength parameter for EAA was about 85% of that for methanol. Despite the relatively high viscosity of EAA, plate count values averaged only about 15% less for EAA as compared to methanol using the same mobile phase composition and could be raised by either working at a temperature above ambient or reducing the flow rate. EAA as a modifier allowed for faster separations of water-soluble vitamins on a reversed phase column designed for totally 100% aqueous mobile phases.

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Correspondence to N. D. Danielson.

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Acknowledgements This work was supported by a grant from the Miami University Committee on Faculty Research. We thank ES Industries for the gift of the AquaSep column.

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Waichigo, M., Riechel, T. & Danielson, N. Ethylammonium Acetate as a Mobile Phase Modifier for Reversed Phase Liquid Chromatography. Chromatographia 61, 17–23 (2005).

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  • Column liquid chromatography
  • Aqueous mobile phase modifier
  • Ethylammonium acetate
  • Water-soluble vitamins