, Volume 25, Issue 8, pp 4499–4511 | Cite as

Enzymatic production of cellulose nanofibers and sugars in a stirred-tank reactor: determination of impeller speed, power consumption, and rheological behavior

  • Thalita J. Bondancia
  • Luciano J. Corrêa
  • Antonio J. G. Cruz
  • Alberto C. Badino
  • Luiz Henrique C. Mattoso
  • José Manoel Marconcini
  • Cristiane S. FarinasEmail author
Original Paper


An integrated biorefinery process is proposed here for the enzymatic production of cellulose nanofiber (CNF) and sugars in a stirred-tank reactor using eucalyptus cellulose pulp as feedstock. Process engineering variables required for scale-up such as impeller speed, power consumption, and rheological behavior were determined under different experimental conditions of solids loading (10 and 15% w/v) and enzyme dosage (5 and 10 mg/g). Based on the mixing time, an impeller speed rotation of 470 rpm was selected for provision of adequate homogenization of the medium. Total energy consumption ranged from 161 to 207 W h and showed that significantly lower power consumption could be achieved using 10 mg/g enzyme loading with 10% w/v solids. Evaluation of rheological behavior showed that transition to a turbulent flow regime during the enzymatic hydrolysis reaction resulted in a constant power number ranging from 2.06 to 2.51, which was also lower for 10 mg/g enzyme loading with 10% w/v solids. Integrated analysis of glucose released and CNF generated after enzymatic hydrolysis showed that glucose values varied from 42.0 to 90.6 g/L, corresponding to cellulose conversion ranging from 57.2 to 76.4%. These values are suitable for the microbial fermentation of sugars into biofuels, while leaving a useful amount of residual nanomaterial. The residual solids of the enzymatic reactions presented the characteristics of CNF, as shown by X-ray diffraction (XRD) analyses, with crystallinity index (CI) values of 72–81%, as well as by morphological analysis using field emission scanning electron microscopy (FEG-SEM), which revealed diameters in the range 18–31 nm, making this nanomaterial suitable for use in a wide range of industrial applications. The findings indicated the potential of using conventional stirred-tank reactors for enzymatic hydrolysis for the integrated production of CNF and glucose, hence contributing to the implementation of future large-scale biorefineries.

Graphical Abstract


Nanocellulose Cellulose nanofiber Cellulosic ethanol Biorefinery Enzymatic hydrolysis Scale-up parameters 



The authors would like to thank Embrapa, MCTI/SISNANO, CNPq, CAPES, and FAPESP (Grant #2016/10636-8) (all from Brazil) for their financial support.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest concerning the publication of this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thalita J. Bondancia
    • 1
    • 2
  • Luciano J. Corrêa
    • 3
  • Antonio J. G. Cruz
    • 1
  • Alberto C. Badino
    • 1
  • Luiz Henrique C. Mattoso
    • 2
  • José Manoel Marconcini
    • 2
  • Cristiane S. Farinas
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Graduate Program of Chemical EngineeringFederal University of São CarlosSão Carlos, SPBrazil
  2. 2.Nanotechnology National Laboratory for Agriculture (LNNA)Embrapa InstrumentaçãoSão Carlos, SPBrazil
  3. 3.Engineering Departament, Federal University of LavrasLavras, MGBrazil

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