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Concept: Ionic liquid


Abundant lignocellulosic biomass could become a source of sugars and lignin, potential feedstocks for the now emergent bio-renewable economy. The production and conversion of sugars from biomass have been well-studied, but far less is known about the production of lignin that is amenable to valorization. Here we report the isolation of lignin generated from the hydrolysis of biomass dissolved in the ionic liquid 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium chloride. We show that lignin can be isolated from the hydrolysate slurry by simple filtration or centrifugation, and that the ionic liquid can be recovered quantitatively by a straightforward wash with water. The isolated lignin is not only free from ionic liquid, but also lacks cellulosic residues and is substantially depolymerized, making it a promising feedstock for valorization by conversion into fuels and chemicals.

Concepts: Scientific method, Maize, 1-Butyl-3-methylimidazolium hexafluorophosphate, Ionic liquids, Social sciences, Ionic liquid, Cellulose, Water


Successful commercialization of wearable diagnostic sensors necessitates stability in detection of analytes over prolonged and continuous exposure to sweat. Challenges are primarily in ensuring target disease specific small analytes (i.e. metabolites, proteins, etc.) stability in complex sweat buffer with varying pH levels and composition over time. We present a facile approach to address these challenges using RTILs with antibody functionalized sensors on nanoporous, flexible polymer membranes. Temporal studies were performed using both infrared spectroscopic, dynamic light scattering, and impedimetric spectroscopy to demonstrate stability in detection of analytes, Interleukin-6 (IL-6) and Cortisol, from human sweat in RTILs. Temporal stability in sensor performance was performed as follows: (a) detection of target analytes after 0, 24, 48, 96, and 168 hours post-antibody sensor functionalization; and (b) continuous detection of target analytes post-antibody sensor functionalization. Limit of detection of IL-6 in human sweat was 0.2 pg/mL for 0-24 hours and 2 pg/mL for 24-48 hours post-antibody sensor functionalization. Continuous detection of IL-6 over 0.2-200 pg/mL in human sweat was demonstrated for a period of 10 hours post-antibody sensor functionalization. Furthermore, combinatorial detection of IL-6 and Cortisol in human sweat was established with minimal cross-talk for 0-48 hours post-antibody sensor functionalization.

Concepts: Sensors, Rayleigh scattering, Scattering, PH, Light scattering, Dynamic light scattering, Ionic liquid, Spectroscopy


The translation of batch chemistries onto continuous flow platforms requires addressing the issues of consistent fluidic behaviour, channel fouling and high-throughput processing. Droplet microfluidic technologies reduce channel fouling and provide an improved level of control over heat and mass transfer to control reaction kinetics. However, in conventional geometries, the droplet size is sensitive to changes in flow rates. Here we report a three-dimensional droplet generating device that exhibits flow invariant behaviour and is robust to fluctuations in flow rate. In addition, the droplet generator is capable of producing droplet volumes spanning four orders of magnitude. We apply this device in a parallel network to synthesize platinum nanoparticles using an ionic liquid solvent, demonstrate reproducible synthesis after recycling the ionic liquid, and double the reaction yield compared with an analogous batch synthesis.

Concepts: Control theory, Solvent, Nanotechnology, Ionic liquid, Surface tension, Reaction rate, Fluid dynamics, Microfluidics


A new generation of designer solvents emerged in the last decade as promising green media for multiple applications, including separation processes: the low-transition-temperature mixtures (LTTMs). They can be prepared by mixing natural high-melting-point starting materials, which form a liquid by hydrogen-bond interactions. Among them, deep-eutectic solvents (DESs) were presented as promising alternatives to conventional ionic liquids (ILs). Some limitations of ILs are overcome by LTTMs, which are cheap and easy to prepare from natural and readily available starting materials, biodegradable, and renewable.

Concepts: Distillation, Analytical chemistry, Deep eutectic solvent, Chemical substance, Solvent, Ionic liquid, Separation process, Mixture


Two types of ionic liquids, 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolim acetate and 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium lactate, were employed for the direct processing of pine wood into microfibers. The concentration of 5 wt.% of wood in ionic liquids was rated as the most appropriate for electrospinning. The fibers were electrospun into the collector water bath. The final structure varied from individual microfibers to fiber bundles. It was demonstrated that 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium lactate is a powerful solvent and provides the direct transformation of pristine pine wood into the non-wovens.

Concepts: Deep eutectic solvent, Surface tension, Pinophyta, Ionic liquid, Water, Solvent, Liquid, Solution


Highly effective cellulose solvents for the dissolution of cellulose at ambient temperature have been designed by adding any aprotic polar solvent to 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium acetate ([C(4) mim][CH(3)COO]). The effects of molar ratio of the aprotic polar solvents to [C(4) mim][CH(3)COO], anionic structure of the ionic liquids (ILs) and nature of the co-solvents on cellulose solubility have been studied in detail. The enhanced dissolution of cellulose is suggested to be mainly resulted from the preferential solvation of cations of the ILs by the aprotic polar solvents, and this has been supported by our conductivity measurements.

Concepts: Ethanol, Solution, Tetrahydrofuran, Deep eutectic solvent, Ionic liquid, Acetic acid, Solubility, Solvent


The purpose of this study is to develop a green strategy to synthesize the cellulose-based nanocomposites and open a new avenue to the high value-added applications of biomass. Herein, we reported a microwave-assisted ionic liquid route to the preparation of cellulose/CuO nanocomposites, which combined three major green chemistry principles: using environmentally friendly method, greener solvents, and sustainable resources. The influences of the reaction parameters including the heating time and the ratio of cellulose solution to ionic liquid on the products were discussed by X-ray powder diffraction, Fourier transform infrared spectrometry, and scanning electron microscopy. The crystallinity of CuO increased and the CuO shape changed from nanosheets to bundles and to particles with increasing heating time. The ratio of cellulose solution to ionic liquid also affected the shapes of CuO in nanocomposites. Moreover, CuO crystals were obtained by thermal treatment of the cellulose/CuO nanocomposites at 800 °C for 3 h in air.

Concepts: Solvent, Ionic liquid, Electron, Crystal, Fourier transform spectroscopy, Infrared spectroscopy, Green chemistry, Spectroscopy


In this study, an aqueous ionic liquid based ultrasonic assisted extraction (ILUAE) method for the extraction of the four acetophenones, namely 4-hydroxyacetophenone (1), 2,5-dihydroxyacetophenone (2), baishouwubenzophenone (3) and 2,4-dihydroxyacetophenone (4) from the Chinese medicinal plant Cynanchum bungei was developed. Three kinds of aqueous l-alkyl-3-methylimidazolium ionic liquids with different anion and alkyl chain were investigated. The results indicated that ionic liquids (ILs) showed remarkable effects on the extraction efficiency of acetophenones. In addition, the ILUAE, including several ultrasonic parameters, such as the ILs concentration, solvent to solid ratio, power, particle size, temperature, and extraction time have been optimized. Under these optimal conditions (e.g., with 0.6M [C(4)MIM]BF(4), solvent to solid ratio of 35:1, power of 175 W, particle size of 60-80 mesh, temperature of 25 ° C and time of 50 min), this approach gained the highest extraction yields of four acetophenones 286.15, 21.65, 632.58 and 205.38 μg/g, respectively. The proposed approach has been evaluated by comparison with the conventional heat-reflux extraction (HRE) and regular UAE. The results indicated that ILUAE is an alternative method for extracting acetophenones from C. bungei.

Concepts: Ions, Temperature, Gas, Deep eutectic solvent, Solvent, Liquid, Solid, Ionic liquid


Ionic liquids (ILs) are a novel class of solvents with interesting physicochemical properties. Many different applications have been reported for ILs as alternatives to organic solvents in chemical and bioprocesses. Despite the argued advantage of having low vapor pressure, even the most hydrophobic ILs show some degree of solubility in water, allowing their dispersion into aquatic systems and raising concerns on its pollutant potential. Moreover, nowadays most widespread notion concerning the ILs toxicity is that there is a direct relationship with their hydrophobicity/lipophilicity. This work aims at enlarging the currently limited knowledge on ILs toxicity by addressing negative impacts in aquatic ecosystems and investigating the possibility of designing hydrophobic ILs of low ecotoxicity, by the manipulation of their chemical structures. The impact of aromaticity on the toxicity of different cations (pyridinium, piperidinium, pyrrolidinium and imidazolium) and hydrophobic anions (bis(trifluoromethylsulfonyl)imide [NTf(2)] and hexafluorophosphate [PF(6)]) was analysed. Concomitantly, several imidazolium-based ILs of the type [C( n )C( m )C( j )im][NTf(2)] were also studied to evaluate the effects of the position of the alkyl chain on the ILs' toxicity. For that purpose, standard assays were performed using organisms of different trophic levels, Vibrio fischeri, Pseudokirchneriella subcapitata and Daphnia magna, allowing to evaluate the consistency of the structure-activity relationships across different biological targets. The results here reported suggest the possibility of designing ILs with an enhanced hydrophobic character and lower toxicity, by elimination of their aromatic nature.

Concepts: Ecosystem, Physical chemistry, Deep eutectic solvent, Vapor pressure, Water, Solubility, Solvent, Ionic liquid


Lignocellulose represents a sustainable source of carbon for transformation into biofuels. Effective biomass to sugar conversion strategies are needed to lower processing cost without degradation of polysaccharides. Since ionic liquids (ILs) are excellent solvents for pretreatment/dissolution of biomass, IL pretreatment was carried out on agave bagasse (AGB-byproduct of tequila industry) and digestibility and sugar yield was compared with that obtained with switchgrass (SWG). The IL pretreatment was conducted using ([C2mim][OAc]) at 120 and 160°C for 3h and 15% biomass loading. While pretreatment using [C2mim][OAc] was very effective in improving the digestibility of both feedstocks, IL pretreatment at 160°C resulted in higher delignification for AGB (45.5%) than for SWG (38.4%) when compared to 120°C (AGB-16.6%, SWG-8.2%), formation of a highly amorphous cellulose structure and a significant enhancement of enzyme kinetics. These results highlight the potential of AGB as a biofuel feedstock that can produce high sugar yields with IL pretreatment.

Concepts: Solvent, Ionic liquid, Starch, Glucose, Ethanol, Biofuel, Cellulosic ethanol, Cellulose