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Sustainable cellulose solubilization, regeneration and derivatization in a DBU-CO2 switchable solvent system

Abstract : As the most abundant source of carbon in our planet, without any competition with food or feed supplies, cellulose is a viable alternative to replace the widely used and unsustainable fossil-based polymers. However, the majority of researchers working on this fascinating biopolymer fail to incorporate sustainability considerations during cellulose chemical transformation to make materials. The consequence is a shift of the “environmental burden” to other stages of the process cycle. Therefore, to ensure sustainability, both the renewability feature of cellulose as well as sustainability considerations concerning its transformation processes are necessary. This implies to consider the solvent, the reactants, the derivatization process and the wastes produced as well as an evaluation of the suitability of the resultant products, for which relevant properties have to be obtained to compete with existing alternatives. This thesis is therefore divided into three main parts (solubilization, regeneration and derivatization of cellulose), and addresses the various concerns of sustainability during cellulose transformation with an end-goal of making processable materials.In the first part of the thesis, a sustainable solvent system for cellulose was investigated. In this regard, a detailed optimization study of the DBU-CO2 switchable solvent system was performed using in-situ infrared spectroscopy. Upon optimization, up to 8 wt.% cellulose could be dissolve within 15 min at 30 °C using low CO2 pressure (2-5 bar). What makes this solvent system sustainable, when compared to other classical cellulose solvents, includes: easier recyclability by simple release of the CO2 pressure, fast and mild solubilization and lower cost compared to ionic liquids. Finally, by successfully trapping the formed in-situ cellulose carbonate using an electrophile, a clearer understanding of this solvent system was established.The successful optimization of a sustainable solvent system for cellulose led to the second part of the thesis: the regeneration of cellulose. Here, the general solubilization and coagulation ways followed by freeze-drying was adopted to prepare cellulose aerogels. Various processing conditions such as cellulose concentration, coagulating solvent and super base, were investigated on their effect of the aerogels properties (density, morphology, pore size). The obtained results showed aerogels with densities between 0.05 and 1.2 g/cm3, porosities between 92 and 97 % and pore sizes between 1.1 and 4.5 μm. In addition, from scanning electron microscopy (SEM), open large macroporous inter-connected cellulose networks were observed.The derivatization of cellulose to make thermally processable materials is covered in the third part of the thesis. This part is divided into two sub-parts; transesterification and multicomponent reaction modification. [...]
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Submitted on : Tuesday, April 30, 2019 - 5:02:12 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, November 5, 2020 - 3:19:46 PM


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Kelechukwu Nnabuike Onwukamike. Sustainable cellulose solubilization, regeneration and derivatization in a DBU-CO2 switchable solvent system. Polymers. Université de Bordeaux; Karlsruher Institut für Technologie, 2019. English. ⟨NNT : 2019BORD0016⟩. ⟨tel-02116117⟩



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