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Application of optical microscopy as a screening technique for cellulose and lignin solvent systems



Rapid and facile screening techniques to determine the effectiveness of solvents for cellulose or biomass dissolution can advance biomass processing research. Here, we report the use of a simple optical microscopy method to screen potential cellulose and lignin solvents. The described methodology was used to screen the dissolution of cellulose and lignin in two imidazolium-based ionic liquids (ILs), two phosphonium-based ILs, as well as a N,N-dimethylacetamide/lithium chloride (DMAc/LiCl) solution in less time than other techniques. The imidazolium-based ILs and the DMAc/LiCl were found to dissolve both cellulose and lignin. Also, it was observed that one of the phosphonium-based ILs dissolved lignin and not cellulose, demonstrating a potential for biomass fractionation applications. © 2011 Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering

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