, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 171-180

Optimization of the isolation of nanocrystals from microcrystalline cellulose by acid hydrolysis

  • Daniel BondesonAffiliated withDepartment of Engineering Design and Materials, NTNU
  • , Aji MathewAffiliated withDepartment of Engineering Design and Materials, NTNU
  • , Kristiina OksmanAffiliated withDepartment of Engineering Design and Materials, NTNU Email author 

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The objective of this work was to find a rapid, high-yield process to obtain an aqueous stable colloid suspension of cellulose nanocrystals/whiskers. Large quantities are required since these whiskers are designed to be extruded into polymers in the production of nano-biocomposites. Microcrystalline cellulose (MCC), derived from Norway spruce (Picea abies), was used as the starting material. The processing parameters have been optimized by using response surface methodology. The factors that varied during the process were the concentration of MCC and sulfuric acid, the hydrolysis time and temperature, and the ultrasonic treatment time. Responses measured were the median size of the cellulose particles/whiskers and yield. The surface charge as calculated from conductometric titration, microscopic examinations (optical and transmission electron microscopy), and observation of birefringence were also investigated in order to determine the outcome (efficiency) of the process. With a sulfuric acid concentration of 63.5% (w/w), it was possible to obtain cellulose nanocrystals/whiskers with a length between 200 and 400 nm and a width less than 10 nm in approximately 2 h with a yield of 30% (of initial weight).

Key words:

Acid hydrolysis Cellulose nanocrystals Cellulose whiskers Optimization Response surface methodology