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Oz M. Gazit and Prof. Alexander Katz Dialkylimidazolium Ionic Liquids Hydrolyze Cellulose Under Mild Conditions ChemSusChem 5

Version of Record online: 30 APR 2012 | DOI: 10.1002/cssc.201100803

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Break it down: The average molecular weight of cellulose derived from different sources (filter paper, poplar, and Avicel) decreases by up to two orders of magnitude during typical mild dissolution protocols using ionic liquids (ILs). Counter-intuitively, greater IL purity results in greater cellulose depolymerization. The data suggest an acid-catalyzed cellulose hydrolysis mechanism, in which the acid is presumably synthesized via IL decomposition to generate a carbene and proton.

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