Pedro VERDÍA BARBARÁ1, Jason HALLETT1
1Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom
The pulp and paper industry is one of the largest industries in the world, with total global paper production of 406 million tonnes in 2014. However, current pulping technologies are still reliant on the hundred-year-old Kraft and sulphite processes, which are very polluting, and more sustainable processes are needed.
The ionoSolv process is an environmentally friendly biomass fractionation method that employs low-cost protic ionic liquids as pretreatment media, developed at the Imperial College . The ionic liquid dissolves the hemicellulose and lignin fractions that surround and protect the valuable cellulose, and a solid cellulose-rich pulp is recovered. It’s environmentally friendliness and feedstock flexibility make it one of the most promising methods to pre-condition different types of lignocellulosic biomass for paper production. The ionosolv process has been proved very successful for the fractionation of a wide range of lignocellulosic feedstocks, including contaminated waste woods, yielding high purity cellulosic pulps that can be easily hydrolysed to produce biofuels. However, its effects on the integrity of the cellulose fibres, vital for the obtention of paper and fibre-based materials, is not yet well known and needs to be optimized .
Here, we are reporting the assessment and optimization of the effect of different parameters such as the feedstock particle size, the acidity of the pretreatment media, and the pretreatment time and temperature on the properties of the cellulosic pulps recovered from ionoSolv pretreatments of different feedstocks. Fibre integrity has been evaluated before and after a subsequent chlorine-free bleaching stage based on hydrogen peroxide. This information is key to unlock the potential of the ionoSolv process for the preparation of high value materials including paper and textiles. Finally, some of the recovered pulps have been tested to produce micro fibrillated cellulose as paper reinforcement additive, and cellulose test sheets