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Chem Rev. 2017 May 24;117(10):7113-7131. doi: 10.1021/acs.chemrev.6b00594. Epub 2017 Feb 27.

Are Ionic Liquids Chemically Stable?

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Shanghai Key Laboratory of Green Chemistry and Chemical Processes, Department of Chemistry, East China Normal University , 3663 North Zhongshan Road, Shanghai 200062, China.
Department of Chemistry, Renmin University of China , 59 Zhongguancun Street, Beijing 100872, China.
Beijing Key Laboratory of Lignocellulosic Chemistry, College of Materials Science and Technology, Beijing Forestry University , 35 Tsinghua East Road, Beijing 100083, China.


Ionic liquids have attracted a great deal of interest in recent years, illustrated by their applications in a variety of areas involved with chemistry, physics, biology, and engineering. Usually, the stabilities of ionic liquids are highlighted as one of their outstanding advantages. However, are ionic liquids really stable in all cases? This review covers the chemical stabilities of ionic liquids. It focuses on the reactivity of the most popular imidazolium ionic liquids at structural positions, including C2 position, N1 and N3 positions, and C4 and C5 positions, and decomposition on the imidazolium ring. Additionally, we discuss decomposition of quaternary ammonium and phosphonium ionic liquids and hydrolysis and nucleophilic reactions of anions of ionic liquids. The review aims to arouse caution on potential decomposition of ionic liquids and provides a guide for better utilization of ionic liquids.

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