Liquid chromatography fractionation with gas chromatography/mass spectrometry and preparative gas chromatography-nuclear magnetic resonance analysis of selected nonylphenol polyethoxylates

Ze-ying Wu, Christian Ruhle, Philip Marriott

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Commercial nonylphenol polyethoxylates, designated as NPnEOs, where n is the number of ethoxy groups, comprise a range of ethoxylate groups. According to the starting material nonylphenol, they may also be composed of a complex mix of isomeric nonyl substituents. In order to study more fully the heterogeneity arising from both the ethoxylate and nonyl groups, a mixture of NPnEOs is first fractionated by normal phase liquid chromatography (NPLC) into separate fractions comprising individual ethoxymers, n. Preparative collection of each early elution ethoxymer fraction allows further separation of different isomeric nonyl group components by using analytical gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS). The nonyl isomers are not resolved in the NPLC method. The distribution of the isomeric nonyl side chain of different ethoxymers bears close resemblance with each other, and also with the original nonylphenol starting material, although separation efficiency of the nonyl isomers for each ethoxymer decreases with increasing ethoxymer number. Mass spectrometry of the separated isomers display close similarity for presumed equivalent isomers in each fraction, based on elution order of the nonyl isomers. This suggests that each corresponding peak has the same isomer structure. Mass spectra are interpreted based on branching within the nonyl side chain. Preparative GC coupled with MS and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy elucidated the molecular structure of one of the resolved isomers as 4-(1,3-dimethyl-1-propyl-butyl)-phenol diethoxylate.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4002 - 4008
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Chromatography A
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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