MANUAL Published: 01 January 2012

Cellulose Esters of Organic Acids


CELLULOSE ESTERS ARE BASED ON ONE OF THE most abundant naturally occurring biopolymers, namely cellulose. This polysaccharide represents a readily available, sustainable feedstock alternative to petroleum-based materials. Although a broad variety of cellulose esters can be made, this chapter only provides a general discussion on the commercially available organic acid esters of cellulose: cellulose acetate (CA), cellulose acetate propionate (CAP), and cellulose acetate butyrate (CAB). Cellulose esters are the reaction product of combining organic acids and/or acid anhydrides with the hydroxyl groups found on the anhydroglucose repeating units of a cellulose molecule [1, 2]. In addition to esterification, several subsequent processing steps are required in the manufacture of cellulose esters including hydrolysis to obtain the desired residual hydroxyl level, filtration, precipitation, washing, dewatering, drying, and screening. Details about these and other manufacturing steps can be found at various places in the three volumes of Ott, Spurlin, and Grafflin [3]. The final product is a dry, free-flowing powder in most instances, although other physical forms can be produced when required. Basic information about physical properties, solubility properties in various solvents and monomers, and compatibility properties of various cellulose esters is provided. Typical uses as well as selected new uses for cellulose esters are briefly discussed as a general guide to selecting these polymeric materials for a variety of applications.

Author Information

de Wit, Jos
Eastman Chemical Company, Kingsport, TN
Bhattacharya, Deep
Eastman Chemical Company, Kingsport, TN
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Developed by Committee: D01
Pages: 27–31
DOI: 10.1520/MNL12183M
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-8891-4
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-7017-9