Lipophilic crown ethers with pendent proton-ionizable groups are novel complexing agents for use in metal ion separations by solvent extraction. For a series of structurally related, lipophilic dibenzocrown ether carboxylic acids, the efficiency and selectivity of competitive alkali metal cation extraction for aqueous solution into chloroform is found to be strongly influenced by the crown ether ring size and the lipophilic group attachment site. Reaction of dibenzocrown ether carboxylic acids with formaldehyde in formic acid produces condensation polymers which possess both ion-exchange and cyclic polyether binding sites for metal ion complexation. These resins exhibit excellent exchange kinetics for competitive alkali metal cation sorption from aqueous solution and subsequent stripping and may be used in concentrator columns for the recovery of these metal ions from very dilute aqueous solution. Cation selectivity in the sorption and stripping steps is controlled by the structure of the crown ether monomer unit.
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