The most frequent polymer on nature is cellulose that is present together with lignin and hemicellulose in vegetal biomass. Cellulose can be, in the future, sustainable raw matter for chemicals, fuels, and materials. Nevertheless, only 0.3% of cellulose is processed nowadays due to the difficulty in dissolving it, and only a small proportion is used for the production of synthetic cellulosic fibers especially esters and other cellulose derivatives, normally in extremely polluting processes. The efficient and clean dissolution of cellulose is a major objective in cellulose research and development. Ionic liquids (ILs) are considered “green” solvents due to their low vapor pressure, that prevents them evaporating into the atmosphere. In addition, these molten salts present advantages in process intensification, leading to more than 70 patents in lignocellulosic biomass in ILs being published since 2005, most of them related to the production of cellulose derived polymers, e.g., acetates, benzoylates, sulfates, fuorates, phthalates, succinates, tritylates, or silylates. In this work, the use of ILs for production of cellulose derived polymers is thoroughly studied. To do so, in the first place, a brief summary of the state of the art in cellulose derivatives production is presented, as well as the main features of ILs in cellulose processing applications. Later, the main results in the production of cellulose derivatives using ILs are presented, followed by an analysis of the industrial viability of the process, considering aspects such as environmental concerns and ILs’ recyclability.
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