Challenges and Perspectives of Ionic Liquids vs. Traditional Solvents for Cellulose Processing pp. 1-34
Authors: (John Gräsvik, Dilip G. Raut, Jyri-Pekka Mikkola, Technical Chemistry, Department of Chemistry, Chemical-Biological Center, Umeå University, Sweden, and others)
Abstract: It is commonly accepted that world-wide production of oil, coal and natural gas will eventually come to a halt, although we still heavily depend on these non-renewable feed stocks and their associated chemical derivatives. Therefore, new, sustainable resources for the production of industrially important chemicals are required. Biomaterials offer much promise in this regard, since they generally contain a lot of cellulose which can be transformed and potentially provide a great source of industrially important chemicals. Presently, only a small part of the annual biomass growth in the world is utilized by industry, while the rest is decaying along natural pathways. In order to effectively process cellulose, it needs to be dissolved in some liquid medium. Present state-of-the-art
commercial technologies employ very toxic and hazardous processing with volatile organic solvents like CS2. However, this need not be the case. Ionic liquids (ILs) have shown great potential for the dissolution of cellulose. Some ILs also have attractive physical properties such as: low vapor pressure, high thermal stability and reusability. Thus, they are potentially viable and more environmentally friendly alternatives. Hereby, we present and discuss some of the challenges and perspectives for ILs in terms of their
potential for cellulose processing. We briefly review the historical processes and current methods for cellulose processing, and look at alternative processes taking advantage of ILs.
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