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Langmuir. 2004 Apr 13;20(8):3047-55.

Determining partition constants of polar organic molecules between the oil/interfacial and water/interfacial regions in emulsions: a combined electrochemical and spectrometric method.

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Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Wright-Rieman Laboratories, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, New Jersey 08903, USA.


We have developed a new approach for estimating distributions of polar additives in opaque, surfactant based, macroemulsions based on the pseudophase model for homogeneous micellar and microemulsion solutions. The distribution of a polar additive, such as an antioxidant, AO, within emulsions is expressed in terms of two partition constants, one between the oil and interfacial regions, P(O)I, and the other between the water and interfacial regions, P(W)I. To estimate values for P(O)I and P(W)I requires fitting two independent data sets with two independent mathematical relations and solving equations simultaneously for the two parameters. The experimental protocols were developed for determining the partition constants of tertbutylhydroquinone, TBHQ, in a stirred emulsion composed of octane, dilute aqueous acid, and hexaethyleneglycol monododecyl ether, C12E6. One data set was obtained by electrochemical determination of the observed rate constant, k(obs), for reaction of TBHQ with an arenediazonium ion probe as a function of C12E6 volume fraction. The second data set was obtained by determining the partition constant, P(O)W, of TBHQ between octane and water in the absence of surfactant by UV-visible spectrometry. TBHQ is almost 30 times more soluble in water than octane: P(O)W = 27.5. The values of the partition constants in the emulsion are P(O)I = 1.84 x 10(4) and P(W)I = 6.73 x 10(2). The partition constants were used to estimate the fraction of TBHQ in each region; for example, 96% of the TBHQ is located in the interfacial region at 0.02 volume fraction of C12E6. Our approach is quite general and should be applicable to any polar organic compound that reacts with the arenediazonium ion probe in emulsions composed of virtually any type of oil and surfactant. Comparisons of the rate constants for reaction of the antioxidant in the interfacial region of the emulsion, which can be obtained from the electrochemical results, may lead to a scale of antioxidant efficiency that is independent of the distribution of the antioxidant in the emulsion.

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