A Comparison of Ionic Liquids and Organic Solvents on the Separation of Cellulose-Rich Material from River Red Gum
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With the aim of separating cellulose-rich material from river red gum, it was pre-treated with three ionic liquids (ILs), i.e. 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium chloride ([Bmim][Cl]), 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium acetate ([Emim][OAc]) and 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium acetate ([Bmim][OAc]) as well as with two organic solvents, i.e. methanol and ethanol. All ILs and organic solvents were able to remove more than 20% lignin. The [Emim][OAc] was found to be the most effective IL in removing lignin (i.e. 26.2 wt% lignin was removed) amongst all pre-treatment studies. Noticeable structural differences were observed in the cellulose-rich materials obtained from IL and organic solvent pre-treatments and several analytical instruments such as XRD, FTIR, TGA and SEM were employed for their detailed understandings. ILs, in contrast to organic solvents, produced porous and low crystalline cellulose-rich material. This was believed to be due to the transformation of crystalline cellulose I to amorphous cellulose II during IL pre-treatment. The exciting findings of producing high porosity and low crystallinity cellulose-rich material along with the removal of lignin using IL treatment have the potential to transform the future bio-processing and bio-refining industry. More than 80% IL recovery was achieved in this investigation. A minor structural alteration was observed in the recovered [Bmim][Cl] while no structural change was observed in the recovered [Emim][OAc] and [Bmim][OAc], and this was confirmed by FTIR spectroscopic analyses. This establishes the recyclability and reusability of ILs in the cost effective pre-treatment of biomass.
KeywordsDelignification River red gum Ionic liquid pre-treatment Organic solvent pre-treatment Biofuels Biochemicals
This work was supported by the School of Engineering, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia. The first and third authors are indebted to the School of Engineering, RMIT University for their postgraduate scholarships.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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