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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Peoria, Illinois » National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research » Plant Polymer Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #283587

Title: Microwave-assisted synthesis of alkyl cellulose in aqueous medium

item Biswas, Atanu
item Kim, Sanghoon
item Selling, Gordon
item Cheng, Huai

Submitted to: Carbohydrate Polymers
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/14/2013
Publication Date: 4/4/2013
Citation: Biswas, A., Kim, S., Selling, G.W., Cheng, H.N. 2013. Microwave-assisted synthesis of alkyl cellulose in aqueous medium. Carbohydrate Polymers. 94(1):120-123.

Interpretive Summary: Methyl cellulose (or methylcellulose) is a chemical compound derived from cellulose. It is a hydrophilic white powder in pure form and dissolves in cold (but not in hot) water, forming a clear viscous solution or gel. It is sold under a variety of trade names and is used as a thickener and emulsifier in various food and cosmetic products, and also as a treatment of constipation. Like cellulose, it is not digestible, not toxic, and not an allergen. It is used in agriculture as a binder, film former and release agent. It is also used as additives in adhesives, protective coatings, cosmetics and toiletries. In this research, we discovered a new, environmentally-friendly, fast method to make a microwave-assisted fast method of making methyl cellulose. This discovery will benefit industrial chemical manufacturers, among others to save time and energy during the production of methyl cellulose.

Technical Abstract: Alkyl celluloses are commercial products that are made typically in an alcohol medium over the course of several hours. In this work an alternative, simplified synthesis of alkyl cellulose is reported, using microwave irradiation and aqueous alkaline medium. No alcohol is needed during the reaction. Reaction time is less than 30 minutes. Conversion varies from 54 to 87%. The degree of substitution varied from 0.2 - 1.0. The production of methyl cellulose and ethyl cellulose was confirmed by 13C NMR analysis.