, Volume 25, Issue 4, pp 2303–2319 | Cite as

Development of high throughput, high precision synthesis platforms and characterization methodologies for toxicological studies of nanocellulose

  • Georgios Pyrgiotakis
  • Wing Luu
  • Zhenyuan Zhang
  • Nachiket Vaze
  • Glen DeLoid
  • Laura Rubio
  • W. Adam C. Graham
  • David C. Bell
  • Douglas Bousfield
  • Philip Demokritou
Original Paper


Cellulose is the most abundant natural polymer, is readily available, biodegradable, and inexpensive. Recently, interest is growing around nano-scale cellulose due to the sustainability of these materials, the novel properties, and the overall low environmental impact. The rapid expansion of nanocellulose uses in various applications makes the study of the toxicological properties of these materials of great importance to public health regulators. However, most of the current toxicological studies are highly conflicting, inconclusive, and contradictory. The major reason for these discrepancies is the lack of standardized methods to produce industry-relevant reference nanocellulose and relevant characterization that will expand beyond the traditional cellulose characterization for applications. In order to address these issues, industry-relevant synthesis platforms were developed to produce nanocellulose of controlled properties that can be used as reference materials in toxicological studies. Herein, two types of nanocellulose were synthesized, cellulose nanofibrils and cellulose nanocrystals using the friction grinding platform and an acid hydrolysis approach respectively. The nanocellulose structures were characterized extensively regarding their physicochemical properties, including testing for endotoxins and bacteria contamination.


Cellulose nanomaterials Nanocellulose Ultra-fine friction grinder Acid hydrolysis Toxicology Nanotoxicology 



Research reported in this publication was supported by the HSPH Center for Nanotechnology and Nanotoxicology and National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences of the National Institutes of Health (under award number, NIH grant # U24ES026946) as part of the Nanotechnology Health Implications Research (NHIR) Consortium. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. The engineered nanomaterials used in the research presented in this publication have been synthesized and characterized by the Engineered Nanomaterials Resource and Coordination Core of the NHIR consortium. Dr. Z. Zhang was supported by the ORISE fellowship from the Department of Defense and the US Air Force. The ENM characterization was performed in part at the Harvard Center for Nanoscale Systems (CNS), a member of the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network (NNIN), which is supported by the National Science Foundation under NSF award no. ECS-0335765.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 530 kb)


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Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  • Georgios Pyrgiotakis
    • 1
  • Wing Luu
    • 2
  • Zhenyuan Zhang
    • 1
  • Nachiket Vaze
    • 1
  • Glen DeLoid
    • 1
  • Laura Rubio
    • 1
  • W. Adam C. Graham
    • 4
  • David C. Bell
    • 3
    • 4
  • Douglas Bousfield
    • 2
  • Philip Demokritou
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Nanotechnology and NanotoxicologyHarvard T. H. Chan School of Public HealthBostonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Chemical and Biological EngineeringUniversity of MaineOronoUSA
  3. 3.Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied SciencesHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA
  4. 4.Center for Nanoscale SystemsHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

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