, Volume 26, Issue 10, pp 5937–5945 | Cite as

Preparation of high-aspect-ratio cellulose nanocrystals by solvothermal synthesis followed by mechanical exfoliation

  • Aiqin Gao
  • Huanghuang Chen
  • Aiqin Hou
  • Kongliang XieEmail author
Original Research


We report a green chemical–physical approach for extracting cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs), using a two-step collaborative process combining solvothermal pretreatment and mechanical exfoliation. This method avoids the use of large volumes of sulfuric acid. The structure, morphology, size distribution, zeta potential, crystallinity, and thermal stability of the CNCs are characterized by Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction, thermogravimetric analysis, and scanning electron, transmission electron and atomic force microscopies. The yield and properties of the obtained CNCs are investigated and compared with those obtained by the conventional acid hydrolysis method. A yield of 72.17 ± 2.00% was obtained, which was significantly higher than that of 30–35% for the traditional sulfuric acid hydrolysis method. CNCs are obtained with an aspect ratio of 25 times, average length of 280 nm, and average width of 11 nm. The CNCs obtained by the two-step process exhibit better thermal stability than those obtained by the conventional acid hydrolysis. The combination of solvothermal pretreatment and mechanical exfoliation is an efficient and promising method for the large-scale production of CNCs for industrial application.


Solvothermal Mechanical exfoliation Cellulose nanocrystals High aspect ratio 



This work was financially supported by Shanghai Natural Science Foundation (Grant No. 18ZR1400800), the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (No. 2232019D-3-19) and the Initial Research Funds for Young Teachers of Donghua University to Aiqin Gao. We thank Aidan G. Young, PhD, from Liwen Bianji, Edanz Group China (, for editing the English text of a draft of this manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

There are no conflicts of interest to declare.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Lab of Science and Technology of Eco-textile, Ministry of Education, College of Chemistry, Chemical Engineering and BiotechnologyDonghua UniversityShanghaiPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.National Engineering Research Center for Dyeing and Finishing of TextilesDonghua UniversityShanghaiPeople’s Republic of China

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