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Sulfonic acids in ionic liquids (ILs) are used as catalysts, electrolytes, and solutions for metal extraction. The sulfonic acid ionization states and the solution acid/base properties are critical for these applications. Methane sulfonic acid (MSA) and camphor sulfonic acid (CSA) are dissolved in several IL solutions with and without bis(trifluoromethanesulfonyl)imine (HTFSI). The solutions demonstrated higher conductivities and lower viscosities. Through calorimetry and temperature-dependent conductivity analysis, we found that adding MSA to the IL solution may change both the ion migration activation energy and the number of “free” charge carriers. However, no significant acid ionization or proton transfer was observed in the IL solutions. Raman and IR spectroscopy with computational simulations suggest that the HTFSI forms dimers in the solutions with an N-H-N “bridged” structure, while MSA does not perturb this hydrogen ion solvation structure in the IL solutions. CSA has a lower solubility in the ILs and reduced the IL solution conductivity. However, in IL solutions containing 0.4 M or higher concentration of HTFSI, CSA addition increased the conductivity at low CSA concentrations and reduced it at high concentrations, which may indicate a synergistic effect.


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