Solubilization of model polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons by nonionic surfactants

J. L. Li, B. H. Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

115 Citations (Scopus)


Solubilization of model polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) by the readily biodegradable nonionic surfactants, Tergitol 15-S-X (X = 7,9 and 12), consisting of mixtures of secondary ethoxylated alcohols was investigated at temperatures below their cloud points. Their solubilization capacities for phenanthrene were compared to those of three other commonly used surfactants, e.g. Triton X-100 and Tween 20 as well as Tween 80. Correlation between the micelle-water partition coefficients and the octanol-water partition coefficients in Tergitol 15-S-7 solutions indicated that the hydrophobicity of PAHs, i.e., their octanol-water partition coefficients, could be used in predicting the solubilization efficiency of PAHs by this nonionic surfactant. Effects of temperature and salinity on solubilization capacity of Tergitol 15-S-7 surfactant for phenanthrene were also investigated along with the micellar properties. The change in hydrodynamic radius and aggregation number of micelles with temperature was measured by the dynamic and static laser light scattering techniques. Results showed that increasing aggregation number and micellar size at higher temperature when cloud point is approached gives rise to the higher solubilization capacity of this surfactant. Effect of salinity on the enhancement of phenanthrene solubility was also discussed in terms of conformation changes in the micelles due to the possible coordination of sodium cations and oxygen atoms on the ethylene oxide groups of the surfactant.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2825-2835
Number of pages11
JournalChemical Engineering Science
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 2002 Jul 29

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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