One-pot chitin pulping using recyclable superbase-based protic ionic liquid

Qingqing Tao, Felipe Nunes Henriquez, Kang Ding, Wai Lun Man, Matthew Y. Lui*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


The application of ionic liquids and deep eutectic solvents offers a promising opportunity for a more environmentally friendly and straightforward chitin purification process from crustacean shells. Nonetheless, the insufficient recyclability of these ionic solvents poses a challenge to the long-term sustainability of such extraction methods. Thus, there is a strong imperative to focus on employing easily recyclable ionic liquids for chitin isolation, enhancing the overall sustainability of the process. In this investigation, a direct chitin purification procedure that utilized pulping liquors consisting of the superbase-based protic ionic liquid 1,5-diazabicyclo[4.3.0]non-5-enium acetate and its precursor, acetic acid, was developed. It was demonstrated that these pulping liquors were capable of simultaneously deproteinate and demineralize shrimp shells to generate chitins with higher purity, degree of N-acetylation and crystallinity than commercially obtained chitin. More significantly, the pulping liquors can be recycled to their pure form in high quantity by simple distillation under reduced pressure, allowing the reuse of these mixtures, which give chitin of nearly identical purity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number121680
JournalCarbohydrate Polymers
Early online date13 Dec 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2024

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Organic Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry

User-Defined Keywords

  • Chitin
  • Extraction
  • Green chemistry
  • Green solvent
  • Ionic liquids


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