Factors Affecting the Nonsolvent-Induced Phase Separation of Cellulose from Ionic Liquid-Based Solutions

In the present work, we report for the first time an in-depth study of the factors influencing porous cellulose film structure formation during the nonsolvent-induced phase separation (NIPS) process from biopolymer solutions in ionic liquid-based solvents. The length of the alkyl chain of the ionic liquid's cation, the solvent/co-solvent ratio, and the type of the cellulose precursor used were found to have great influence both on cellulose solution formation and properties and to the NIPS process with water acting as nonsolvent. In the undiluted form, both studied ionic liquids proved to dissolve almost equally well the cellulose; however, due to differences in viscosities of the formed biopolymer solutions and due to differences in miscibility with water of the two ionic liquids, the used ionic liquid had a strong influence on the film's porous structure formation. The use of increasing amounts of an aprotic co-solvent, here dimethylsulfoxide, improved biopolymer solubilization and also led to the formation of a more pronounced macroporous structure during the NIPS process. The cellulose type also affected the porous structure generation during the NIPS process: with the increase of the molecular weight of the precursor, the viscosity of the formed biopolymer solution increased and the tendency to generate macroporous structures decreased.


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