Solvation Behavior of Cellulose and Xylan in the MIM/EMIMAc Ionic Liquid Solvent System: Parameters for Small-Scale Solvation

Susanne Bylin, Carina Olsson, Gunnar Westman, Hans Theliander


Ionic liquid treatment has been reported by several researchers as a possible step in the process of fractionating lignocellulosic biomass within the biorefinery concept. However, understanding how solvation can be achieved and how the feedstock biopolymers are affected is needed prior to a viable implementation. An effective two-component solvent system for the wood components cellulose and xylan has been developed. Furthermore, the solvation of these components in the system consisting of the ionic liquid (IL) 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium acetate (EMIMAc) in a novel combination with the co-solvent 1-methylimidazole (MIM) is investigated. Focused beam reflectance measurement (FBRM) particle characterization in combination with microscopic analysis and molecular weight determinations (xylan) shows that cellulose and xylan can be most efficiently solvated using only 3 to 4% IL (n/n anhydro-glucose units and n/n anhydro-xylose units) and 9% IL, respectively, while still avoiding any significant polymer degradation. A model for a two-step process of cellulose solvation in the present system is proposed.


Ionic liquid; Solvation; Cellulose; Xylan; FBRM

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