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High aspect ratio nanocellulose from an extremophile spinifex grass by controlled acid hydrolysis


During the last two decades, work surrounding the preparation of a vast array of cellulose nanomaterials from both wood and non-wood based sources has steadily intensified. This study reports on the isolation of high aspect ratio nanocellulose from an arid grass source commonly called “spinifex”, Triodia pungens, via an optimised sulfuric acid hydrolysis protocol. The unique attributes of T. pungens have enabled pulping and bleaching under milder conditions than used in typically reported protocols, followed by relatively easy deconstruction into nanofibres with an unprecedentedly high aspect ratio. Hydrolysis of bleached T. pungens under these optimised processing conditions has yielded nanocellulose with a very high aspect ratio of 144 (average dimensions of 3.45 ± 1 nm × 497 ± 106 nm), a crystallinity of 73% and a production yield of 42%. Based on the spectroscopic and X-ray scattering analyses, an unusually high content of hemicellulose (42%) is correlated with both the ease of deconstruction and the retention of nanocellulose length. This high hemicellulose content also appears to give rise to a lower transverse stiffness than previously-reported values for wood sources.

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The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support from the Australian Research Council (under ARC Discovery Grant No. DP0877161). They also would like to acknowledge the Dugalunji Aboriginal Corporation in Camooweal for the project collaboration and the supply of spinifex grass samples. The authors acknowledge the University of Queensland, the Australian Microscopy and Microanalysis Research Facility at the Centre for Microscopy and Microanalysis for their facilities and technical assistance, as well as Dr Isabel Morrow for microscopy assistance. Finally, the authors would also like to thank Dr Elena Taran for the help with AM-FM analysis, which was performed at the Queensland node of the Australian National Fabrication Facility, a company established under the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy to provide nano and micro-fabrication facilities for Australian researchers. They also acknowledge the financial support (Proposal P3973) from ANSTO and Dr. Robert Knott for the scattering analysis.

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Correspondence to Darren J. Martin.

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Amiralian, N., Annamalai, P.K., Garvey, C.J. et al. High aspect ratio nanocellulose from an extremophile spinifex grass by controlled acid hydrolysis. Cellulose 24, 3753–3766 (2017).

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  • Nanocellulose (NC)
  • High aspect ratio
  • Spinifex
  • Acid hydrolysis
  • Hemicellulose
  • Nanofibre