Demonstrating Sustainable Biomass Utilization and Processing Using Ionic Liquids : An Introduction to Undergraduate Chemistry Laboratories
A more sustainable, greener chemistry aiming at the utilization of renewable resources is a main research focus to reduce human environmental impact. Unfortunately, there is a lack of powerful, environmentally benign solvents for the two most abundant renewable biopolymers, cellulose and lignin. Ionic liquids are here introduced to undergraduate chemistry laboratories as recyclable, tunable solvents for the dissolution and processing of biomass in the form of wood and its components to create alternative processes that are safer as well as waste- and additive-free. These experiments emphasize the principles of green chemistry and demonstrate the scope and potential of ionic liquids for the production of novel, biodegradable materials from renewable resources.