Regioselective Synthesis of Cellulose Esters

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Virginia Tech

Cellulose is an extraordinarily abundant polymer that can be harvested and purified from trees and other renewable sources. Cellulose derivatives have been widely used as coatings, optical films, fibers, molded objects, and matrices for controlled release. The properties of cellulose derivatives are not only affected by the degree of substitution, but also by the position of substitution. In order to establish the structure-property relationships of cellulose derivatives, it is of great importance to impart regioselectivity into functionalized cellulose. However, regioselective substitution of cellulose is extremely challenging, especially in the synthesis of regioselectively functionalized cellulose esters due to the unstable ester bond under aqueous alkaline or acid conditions.

In this dissertation, the main objective is to search for new tools to synthesize regioselectively substituted cellulose esters, to understand how structural changes impact properties and performance, and thus to design cellulose derivatives delivering high performance. Several strategies for regioselective preparation of cellulose esters are discussed in detail. The obtained regioselective cellulose esters were fully characterized analytically.

Cellulose, regioselectivity, protection, deprotection, deacylation, mechanism