Utilization of renewable materials, such as carbon dioxide and cellulose, is a prevailing goal of green chemistry. Homogenous conditions promote the use of cellulose, but finding solvent systems that appreciably dissolve this robust polymer is a difficult task. Processing cellulose with minimal waste and economic cost are additional considerations, and existing methods warrant improvement in these regards. In another fashion, the utilization of carbon dioxide is dependent upon novel methods for capture and storage (CCS). Researchers at the Dalian National Laboratory for Clean Energy, China, have integrated the goals of CCS and cellulose dissolution in their latest research effort.
It is well known that mixtures of organic liquids, comprised of a strong base and an alcohol, form reversible ionic compounds upon the introduction of carbon dioxide. By using 1,1,3,3-tetramethyl guanidine in combination with dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO) and ethylene glycol, in particular, they observed microcrystalline cellulose dissolution of up to 10 wt% under mild conditions. The presence of the co-solvent DMSO was integral to achieve this extent of dissolution, and cellulose regeneration and recovery could be accomplished by several methods.
Learn more about their exciting results here:
Capturing CO2 for cellulose dissolution
Haibo Xie, Xue Yu, Yunlong Yang, and Zongbao Kent Zhao
Green Chem., 2014, Advance Article, DOI: 10.1039/C3GC42395F
Jenna Flogeras obtained her B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Chemistry from the University of New Brunswick (Fredericton), Canada. She is currently working towards her Ph.D. at Memorial University of Newfoundland, under the supervision of Dr. Francesca Kerton. Her research is focused on the synthesis of biodegradable polymers using main-group metal complexes as catalysts.