Can ionic liquids dissolve wood? Processing and analysis of lignocellulosic materials with 1-n-butyl-3-methylimidazolium chloride

Diego A. Fort, Richard C. Remsing, Richard P. Swatloski, Patrick Moyna, Guillermo Moyna, Robin D. Rogers

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651 Scopus citations


The bulk of the cellulose currently employed by industry is isolated from wood through Kraft pulping, a process which traditionally involves a barrage of environmentally detrimental chemicals and is undeniably 'non-green.' In this report we present a simple and novel alternative approach for the processing of lignocellulosic materials that relies on their solubility in solvent systems based on the ionic liquid (IL) 1-n-butyl-3-methylimidazolium chloride ([C 4mim]Cl). Dissolution profiles for woods of different hardness are presented, making emphasis on the direct analysis of the cellulosic material and lignin content in the resulting liquors by means of conventional 13C NMR techniques. We also show that cellulose can be readily reconstituted from the IL-based wood liquors in fair yields by the addition of a variety of precipitating solvents. Spectroscopic and thermogravimetric studies indicate that the polysaccharide obtained in this manner is virtually free of lignin and hemicellulose and has characteristics that are comparable to those of pure cellulose samples subjected to similar processing conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)63-69
Number of pages7
JournalGreen Chemistry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 11 2007


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution

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