APPLICATIONS OF TECHNOLOGY:
- Ionic liquid manufacturing
- Biorefinery and biomass pretreatment
- Paper and pulp production
- Heat transfer and electrolyte liquids
- Reduces the cost of synthesizing ionic liquids
- Provides a route to manufacture ionic liquids from renewable resources
- Widely applicable to lignin, hemicellulose, and their depolymerized products
Researchers led by Seema Singh at the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have developed a method to convert plant biomass products into ionic liquids. This approach transforms lignin, hemicellulose, and their depolymerized products into aromatic aldehydes that can be further processed to produce ionic liquids.
This process utilizes halogenation, amination, and protonation to transform primary alcohols of lignin-derived byproducts into tertiary or quaternary ammonium salt-based ionic liquids. In order to bypass the costly reductive amination step, the research team developed a route to synthesize these ionic liquids using a two-step procedure involving a halogenation step that employs much cheaper reagents.
There are few, if any, other existing methods to use lignin byproducts in the paper and pulp industry outside of the generation of heat, and other processes that work to reduce lignin and hemicellulose products tend to use expensive reagents and/or processes. Ionic liquid synthesis requires minimal (if any) purification steps and can be conducted as a one-pot process, which greatly increases convenience and process economics. The JBEI method provides an efficient and economic way to use these byproducts to significantly reduce production costs and to generate ionic liquids from renewable sources.
DEVELOPMENT STAGE: Proven principle.
STATUS: Patent pending. Available for licensing or collaborative research.
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