Studying Kinetics to Improve Production Rates of Cellulose Nanocrystals

biomass

Cellulose nanocrystals are the future for the Forest Service, which is always looking for ways to utilize forest thinnings.

Cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) have been found to exhibit very special mechanical and optical properties. CNCs can be used as powerful building blocks for the production of high-quality, durable, lightweight, and cost-effective products for a variety of applications. CNCs are predominantly produced using the traditional strong acid hydrolysis process, and typical CNC yield is low (approximately 30%) despite process optimization.

Kinetics of Strong Acid Hydrolysis of a Bleached Kraft Pulp for Producing Cellulose Nanocrystals (CNCs) by JY Zhu investigates hydrolysis of a bleached kraft hardwood pulp using sulfuric acid for the production of CNCs.

The study of motion is called kinetics, and this work for the first time provides the most plausible description of CNC production kinetics, which is significant for the commercial production of CNCs. Based on the experimental data, a kinetic model was developed as a mathematical tool for large-scale process design.

  • This research has provided the most plausible description of CNC production kinetics, essential knowledge for the commercial production of CNCs.
  • The study demonstrated that CNC yield as high as 75% from bleach hardwood kraft pulp can be achieved, an improvement in CNC yield of 25% to 50%. This has substantial economic impact for commercialization.
  • The kinetic model developed provides excellent predictability for CNC production and offers a powerful mathematical tool for large-scale process design.

Research cooperators include the USDA Forest Service Forest Products Laboratory, Madison, Wisconsin; Jiangsu University, Zhenjiang, China; and Tsinghua University, Beijing, China.