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Equilibrium Modeling of Mixtures of Methanol and Water

Volume 59, Number 3 (March 2005) Page 329-334

Puxty, Graeme; Maeder, Marcel; Radack, Kyle P.; Gemperline, Paul J.


An understanding of the species that form in mixtures of alcohol and water is important for their use in liquid chromatography applications. In reverse-phase liquid chromatography the retention of solutes on a chromatography column is influenced by the composition of the mobile phase, and in the case of alcohol and water mobile phases, the amount of free alcohol and water present. Previous and similar modeling studies of methanol (MeOH) and water mixtures by near-infrared (NIR) spectroscopy have found up to four species present including free MeOH and water and MeOH and water complexes formed by hydrogen bonding associations. In this work an equilibrium model has been applied to NIR measurements of MeOH and water mixtures. A high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) pump was coupled to an NIR flow cell to produce a gradual change in mixture composition. This resulted in a greater mixture resolution than has been achieved previously by manual mixture preparation. It was determined that five species contributed to the data. An equilibria model consisting of MeOH, H2O, MeOH(H2O) (log KH2OMeOH = 0.10 ± 0.03), MeOH(H2O)4 (log K4H2OMeOH = −2.14 ± 0.08), and MeOH(H2O)9 (log K9H2OMeOH = −8.6 ± 0.1) was successfully fitted to the data. The model supports the results of previous work and highlights the progressive formation of MeOH and water complexes that occur with changing mixture composition. The model also supports that mixtures of MeOH and water are not simple binary mixtures and that this is responsible for observed deviations from expected elution behavior.