Ultrapure Acetonitrile: A Purification Method for the Removal of Metals




Acetonitrile is a main solvent used in electrochemistry, electronics, semiconductor and synthesis because of its wide potential window and other chemical properties. However, the high purity acetonitrile that is commercially available contains trace metals and water as main impurities. The presence of metal ions in the solvent can interfere with the analysis and contaminate the products processed with the solvent. These metal impurities are detrimental to any devices or electrolytes prepared or used in contact with this solvent because devices or electrolytes will experience efficiency losses.



Our researchers at the University of Nevada, Reno have invented a treatment to remove metal impurities from acetonitrile. Our method uses a complexation agent to capture the metal impurities. The remaining complexation agent and products are further purified and removed which yields acetonitrile with a concentration of metal impurities lower than the commercially available electronic grade.



  • Acetonitrile is used in a wide variety of applications such as sensitive electrochemical methods, electronics, semiconductor processing, and chemical synthesis.
  • The content of trace metals in our purified acetonitrile is much lower than the commercially available high purity electronic grade acetonitrile.  The electronic grade contains less than 10 ppb of metals, while our samples contain less than 1 ppb of metals.
  • Because of increased purity in our method, the electrochemical potential window of the solvent will increase.
  • Our method can provide better baselines for analysis and larger potential capabilities for devices without sacrificing the content of water or other organic impurities.
  • In electrolytic applications, it will minimize side reactions that lower capacitor and battery efficiency.
  • In synthetic applications, the chemicals produced will need less purification steps which will lower the cost and improve yields in commercial applications.




Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Shannon Sheehan
Manager, Technology Commercialization
University of Nevada, Reno
Mario Alpuche Aviles
Nelum Karunathilake
Salvador Gutierrez-Portocarrero