One main limiting factor for the technoeconomics of future bioprocesses that use ionic liquids (ILs) is the recovery of the expensive and potentially toxic IL. We have demonstrated a new series of phase-separable ionic liquids, based on the hydrophobic tetraalkylphosphonium cation ([PRRRR] +), that can dissolve lignin in the neat state but also hemicellulose and high-purity cellulose in the form of their electrolyte solutions with dipolar aprotic solvents. For example, the IL trioctylmethylphosphonium acetate ([P8881][OAc]) was demonstrated to dissolve up to 19 wt % of microcrystalline cellulose (MCC) at 60 °C with the addition of 40 wt % of DMSO. It was found that the MCC saturation point is dependent on the molar ratio of DMSO and IL in solution. At the optimum saturation, a ∼1:1 molar ratio of [P8881][OAc] to anhydroglucose units is observed, which demonstrates highly efficient solvation. This is attributed to the positive contribution that these more amphiphilic cation-anion pairs provide, in the context of the Lindman hypothesis. This effective dissolution is further illustrated by solution-state HSQC NMR spectroscopy on MCC. Finally, it is also demonstrated that these electrolytes are phase separable by the addition of aqueous solutions. The addition of 10 % NaOAc solution allows a near quantitative recovery of high-purity [P8881][OAc]. However, increased volumes of aqueous solution reduced the recovery. The regenerated material was found to partially convert into the cellulose II crystalline polymorph. Solving the dissolving: Hydrophobic wood-biopolymer-solvating ionic liquids are developed that are phase separable from aqueous solutions as a means of recycling. These ionic liquids are excellent solvents for cellulose in the form of their DMSO electrolyte solutions but only dissolve lignin as the pure ionic liquids.
|Number of pages||13|
|Publication status||Published - May 2014|
|MoE publication type||A1 Journal article-refereed|
- ab initio calculations
- hydrophobic effect
- ionic liquids
- solvent effects