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A Novel Approach for Rapid Preparation of Monophasic Microemulsions That Facilitates Penetration of Woody Biomass

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journal contribution
posted on 27.01.2016 by Xueyu Du, Lucian A. Lucia, Reza A. Ghiladi
Microemulsions are a straightforward, efficient, and highly useful complex media for flooding/wetting substrates as a result of their low surface tension and viscosity. Among the four broad general classes of microemulsions (Winsor-I, -II, -III, and -IV), Winsor-IV is by far considered the ideal microemulsion type within the context of woody biomass pretreatment because it is a single phase. In the present study, a never-before reported titration method was developed with the intent of providing a rapid online determination of Winsor-IV type microemulsion formulations under fixed surfactant concentrations for expressly treating woody biomass. A total of 108 surfactant-oil–water formulations based on a sodium dodecylsulfate/pentanol/water/sodium chloride/dodecane system were investigated for their phase behavior, 54 of which yielded Winsor-IV type microemulsions. The ability of the selected microemulsions to affect the crystallinity of cellulose was studied by X-ray diffraction as was the synergetic effect of microemulsion surface tension and kinematic viscosity on wood penetration from liquid uptake experiments. The general method described here enables rapid preparation of Winsor-IV type microemulsions that exhibit rapid wood penetration at room temperature and atmospheric pressure and potential utility as a general means for screening surfactant-oil–water formulations for effective wood biomass pretreatment or other materials applications.

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