Journal of Polymers and the Environment

, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 615–621 | Cite as

Bio-Treatment of Natural Fibers in Isolation of Cellulose Nanofibres: Impact of Pre-Refining of Fibers on Bio-Treatment Efficiency and Nanofiber Yield

  • Sreekumar JanardhnanEmail author
  • Mohini Sain
Original Paper


Biodegradability, renewability and high specific strength properties of cellulose nanofibres and microfibrils have made them very attractive in nano-biocomposite science. Treatment of natural fibers with suitable enzymes or fungus has been found to substantially alleviate the high energy requirement associated with the isolation of cellulose nanofibers via high shear refining and subsequent cryocrushing. This article briefly describes a novel enzymatic fiber pretreatment developed to facilitate the isolation of cellulose nanofibres and explores the effect of pre-refining of fibers on the effectiveness of bio-treatment. Soft wood Kraft pulp was pre-sheared to different degree and treated with a genetically modified fungus isolated from fungus infected Dutch elm tree. Cellulose nanofibres were isolated from these treated fibers by high shear refining. The percentage yield of nanofibres from pre-refined fibers in the less than 50 nm range showed a substantial increase and at the same time the number of revolutions required during the high shear refining to attain a comparable level of nanofibres isolation decreased. This observation may be attributed to the better fiber internal accessibility of the enzymes due to loosening up of the fibers and increased number of fiber ends as a result of pre-refining.


Cellulose nanofibres/microfibrils Cellulose microfibril isolation Enzyme pre-treatment Hydrogen bonds PFI refining 



The authors are grateful for the support of Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada—BIOCAP.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied ChemistryUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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