Dissolution of cellulose
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Cellulose is a unique stereoregular, chiral, biocompatible and reactive polymer which, at the same time, constitutes an abundant and renewable natural resource. However, the efficient conversion of cellulose towards speciality polymers and its hydrolysis to biofuels is severely hindered by the crystallinity inherent in native cellulose. A few solvent systems have been found effective for molecular dissolution of cellulose, but they operate under rather strict conditions of composition and temperature. We are studying the dissolution of solid cellulose in aqueous NaOH solutions with the aim to elucidate the transport phenomena governing the dissolution process.