Preparation and characterization of thermally stable cellulose nanocrystals via a sustainable approach of FeCl3-catalyzed formic acid hydrolysis
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Cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) can be used as building blocks for the production of many renewable and sustainable nanomaterials. In this work, CNCs were produced from bleached eucalyptus kraft pulp with a high yield over 75 % via FeCl3-catalyzed formic acid (FA) hydrolysis process. It was found that the particle size of resultant CNC products (F-CNC) decreased with the increase of FeCl3 dosage in FA hydrolysis, and a maximum crystallinity index of about 75 % could be achieved when the dose of FeCl3 was 0.015 M (i.e. about 7 % based on the weight of starting material). Thermogravimetric analyses revealed that F-CNC exhibited a much higher thermal stability (the decomposition temperature was over 260 °C) than S-CNC prepared by typical sulfuric acid hydrolysis. In the FeCl3-catalyzed FA hydrolysis process, FA could be easily recovered and reused, and FeCl3 could be transferred to Fe(OH)3 as a high value-added product. Thus, the FeCl3-catalyzed FA hydrolysis process could be sustainable and economically feasible. In addition, F-CNC could be well dispersed in DMSO and its dispersibility in water could be improved by a cationic surface modification.
KeywordsCellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) Formic acid hydrolysis FeCl3 catalysis Cationic modification Renewable resources
This work was supported by the National Natural Science foundation of China (Grant No. 21306216, Grant No. 31170541, Grant No. 31470609, and Grant No. 21433001), the Natural Science Foundation of Tianjin City (Grant No. 13JCZDJC29400, Grant No. 13JCZDJC33700), and Shandong Provincial Natural Science Foundation for Distinguished Young Scholar (China) (Grant No. JQ201305).
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