The Design and Synthesis of Novel Chelates for the Precipitation of Mercury

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Institution Granting Degree

University of Kentucky

Cedarville University School or Department

Science and Mathematics


Mercury, remediation, thiols, chelation, precipitation


Mercury has been an element of great industrial importance since early times.This wide utilization of the element has led to pervasive mercury contamination in theglobal environment. Due to mercury's high toxicity, this is a matter of great concern. Anumber of methods, includ ing phytoremediation, filtration, and precipitation/chelation have been investigated to remove mercury from the environment. Unfortunately, thesemethods are not entirely satisfactory for the in-situ remediation of mercury from aqueousenvironments.The hypothesis of this dissertation is that this can best be accomplished by theaddition of a large and flexible sulfur-based chelate, that will bind mercury in atetracoordinate and presumably tetrahedral environment, to mercury-contaminatedwaters. Although this proved difficult due to the tendency of these ligands to decomposeinto smaller, sulfur-containing rings, the synthesis and characterization of such a chelatewas achieved. Several potential mercury-binding ligands were eventually synthesizedsignificant amounts of mercury (91-100%) from the contaminated solutions, in one caselowering the mercury levels in the water to below the CVAF detection limits. Theresulting solids lost little (andlt;15 ppb) of their mercury during leaching studies.This work demonstrates the use of tetradentate chelates in precipating Hg2+ fromwater to produce stable mercury- ligand precipitates. A calculation for the quantification ofthe geometry of a four-coordinate compound was also developed and applied to aluminum,gallium, and mercury compounds. This calculation could also be applied to the mercurycompounds described in this thesis once X-ray structures become available.