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Title: Physical insight into switchgrass dissolution in the ionic liquid 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium acetate

Small-angle neutron scattering was used to characterize solutions of switchgrass and the constituent biopolymers cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin, as well as a physical mixture of them mimicking the composition of switchgrass, dissolved in the ionic liquid (IL) 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium acetate. The results demonstrate that the IL dissolves the cellulose fibrils of switchgrass, although a supramolecular biopolymer network remains that is not present in solutions of the individual biopolymers and that does not self-assemble in a solution containing the physical mixture of the individual biopolymers. The persistence of a network-like structure indicates that dissolving switchgrass in the IL does not disrupt all of the physical entanglements and covalent linkages between the biopolymers created during plant growth. Reconstitution of the IL-dissolved switchgrass yields carbohydrate-rich material containing cellulose with a low degree of crystallinity, as determined by powder X-ray diffraction, which impacts potential down-stream uses of the biopolymers produced by the process. The data suggests that the use of chemical additives which would break bonds that exist between the lignin and hemicellulose might improve the purity of the resulting product, but may not be able to disrupt the highly physically-entangled biopolymer network sufficiently to facilitate their separation.
 [1] ;  [1] ;  [2] ;  [2] ;  [2] ;  [2] ;  [2] ;  [1]
  1. University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa
  2. ORNL
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering; Journal Volume: 2; Journal Issue: 5
Research Org:
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL); High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR); Spallation Neutron Source; Center for Structural Molecular Biology (CSMB)
Sponsoring Org:
SC USDOE - Office of Science (SC)
Country of Publication:
United States