, Volume 26, Issue 7, pp 4601–4614 | Cite as

Morphological and rheological behaviors of micro-nanofibrillated NaOH-pretreated Aspen wood

  • Marcia C. BrancifortiEmail author
  • Han-Seung Yang
  • Islam Hafez
  • Nicholas C. A. Seaton
  • William T. Y. TzeEmail author
Original Research


This research was aimed at fibrillating wood (Aspen) particles using ultra-fine friction grinding, facilitated by a sodium hydroxide pretreatment step. Its objective was to examine the effect of grinding on the extent of fibrillation and the rheological behaviors of the products. The morphology of the ground samples were characterized by optical (OM) and scanning electron microscopy. The extent of fibrillation was evaluated by measurements of particle size distribution (PS), specific surface area, and water retention value. The rheological behavior of the sample suspension was examined by oscillatory and rotational flow testing. Morphological results revealed a reduction in particle size with increasing mechanical fibrillation. The fibrillated samples contained micro- and nano-sized fibers of approximately 50–1000 nm in width, and lengths between hundreds of nanometers to micrometers. Rheological results revealed an increase in storage moduli (G′) and loss moduli (G″) of the fibrillated samples as the grinding was more severe. A shift in the cross-over point (G′ = G″) towards higher strains was also observed, indicating a more stable network structure with a higher extent of grinding. The fibrillated samples showed shear thinning (reduced viscosity) and a decreased thixotropic behavior when subjected to increasing shear rates. A higher extent of fibrillation led to aqueous suspensions of higher shear viscosity, which would also increase when increasing the solid content of the measured suspension. Overall, this study offers a low-cost and simple means for producing fibrillated particles from wood materials, and also benefits their downstream processing through the acquired understanding of their rheological behavior.


Lignocellulose materials Mechanical nanofibrillation Morphology Rheology 



The authors thank Prof. Schilling J (University of Minnesota, UMN) for the supply of the alkaline pretreated wood and use of the spectrophotometer, Prof. Abbas A (UMN) for the use of optical microscope, Prof. Zucolotto V (University of Sao Paulo) for the use of Zetasizer, Dr. Schenker M (FiberLean Technologies) for discussing the rheology methods, and Dr. Plotegher F and Dr. Moreira FKV (Embrapa) for the use of rheometer. Parts of this work were carried out in the University of Minnesota’s Characterization Facility (scanning electron microscopy) and Minnesota Nano Center (laser diffraction), which receive partial support from the National Science Foundation through, respectively, the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) and National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure Network (NNCI; Award No. ECCS-1542202). The authors also acknowledge CAPES (Project Nanobiotec No. 13; MCB postdoctoral scholarship process number 6290-13-2), the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture Grant (No. 2011-67009-20063) and its McIntire Stennis Project (No. MIN-12-053; under Accession No. 1010000) for financial supports.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marcia C. Branciforti
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Han-Seung Yang
    • 1
  • Islam Hafez
    • 1
  • Nicholas C. A. Seaton
    • 3
  • William T. Y. Tze
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems EngineeringUniversity of MinnesotaSaint PaulUSA
  2. 2.Department of Materials EngineeringUniversity of Sao PauloSao PauloBrazil
  3. 3.Characterization FacilityUniversity of MinnesotaSaint PaulUSA

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