Journal Article Rapid Benzylation of Cellulose in Tetra-n-butylphosphonium Hydroxide Aqueous Solution at Room Temperature

Abe, Mitsuru  ,  Sugimura, Kazuki  ,  Nishiyama, Yoshiharu  ,  Nishio, Yoshiyuki

5 ( 6 )  , pp.4505 - 4510 , 2017-04-25 , American Chemical Society (ACS)
We found a very fast benzylation of cellulose in a tetraalkyl-onium hydroxide solvent system, 47% tetra-n-butylphosphonium hydroxide aqueous solution. Benzyl cellulose (BC) with a degree of substitution (DS) above 2.5 was obtained within 10 min at ambient temperature (20–25 °C) using ∼9 mol equiv of benzyl bromide to the anhydroglucose unit. The highly efficient benzylation proceeded in the transiently stabilized emulsion state of the reaction system, and the product precipitated out as a solid sediment in the liquid medium. At 20 °C, the benzyl DS was 1.92 after 2 min, and reached 2.40 and 2.53 after 5 and 10 min, respectively. The reaction temperature had a negative correlation with the maximum DS in the explored range of 10–50 °C. No significant degradation of the cellulosic main chain was observed for highly substituted BCs (DS > 2.5). The solubility of BC in common organic solvents was also examined for products with various DSs.

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