Effect of solvent fractionation pretreatment on energy consumption of cellulose nanofabrication from switchgrass
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Lignin-containing cellulose nanofibers (L-CNFs) with various lignin contents were produced by a grinding process from switchgrass, which were pretreated using organosolv fractionation. The effect of different fractionation conditions (temperature and time) and different number of grinder passes on the energy consumption and morphologies of L-CNFs were investigated. Results showed that nanosized fibers were found in organosolv-fractionated samples before grinding. After several grinding passes, L-CNFs with a similar degree of fibrillation as commercial cellulose nanofibers (CNF) were obtained from the fractionated materials. It is beneficial to save energy consumption in the grinding process. The dimensions and dispersion of L-CNFs were significantly influenced by the lignin content in the L-CNFs. Longer and well-separated nanofibrils were observed from transmission electron microscopy and fluorescence microscopy with appropriate residual lignin (~ 13.7 ± 1.59%) in the L-CNFs compared to those of L-CNFs with either lower or higher lignin contents. Therefore, microsized and nanosized lignin particles were successfully obtained in a single process, and they not only facilitated L-CNFs dispersion but also help to decrease the energy consumption during the grinding process.
This work was supported by the SDSU Sungrant Regional Program [A18-0659]; the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture [Hatch project 1012359]; the Special Fund for Forest Scientific Research in the Public Welfare ; Priority Academic Program Development [PAPD] of Jiangsu Higher Education Institutions; and Doctorate Fellowship Foundation of Nanjing Forestry University of China.
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