Process for the Low Cost and Non-Toxic Isolation of Cellulose Nanofibers from Grass Biomass



    • Cellulose nanofibers are a class of nanocellulose that are favored in materials applications because of their desirable chemical, mechanical, and environmental properties. However, the isolation of these materials from biomass remains a challenge because of toxic chemicals and high-energy specialized machines required.
    • The inventors have developed a new process to isolate cellulose nanofibers from the well characterized grass biomass source miscanthus X. Giganteas. The process uses cheap, non-toxic chemicals, does not require any mechanical treatment, and produces materials with enhanced properties.
    • The invention is a process for isolating cellulose nanofibers from a grass biomass requiring only: 1) bleach pretreatment, 2) oxidation with ammonium persulfate and 3) ultrasonication. The process uses far cheaper and less toxic treatment chemicals and requires less specialized equipment than current methods.
    • In proof-of-concept experiments, the inventors used their process to isolate cellulose nanofibers with a height of 3.8nm and a length of 880nm. The resulting nanofibers had a tensile strength of 89.19MPa and formed a gel in DMF suspension with a concentration as low as 0.6%wt.



    Cellulose nanofibers dissolved in DMF at different weight percentages (shown in white). Compositions above 0.6% form a gel in solution after sitting for 24 hours, an important property which enables easy material modification and processing.




    • Does not require expensive and high-energy equipment
    • Input chemicals are non-toxic and inexpensive
    • Nanofibers gel at low concentrations and are easily processed



    • Materials science: stand-alone material or additive
    • Automotive
    • Packaging
    • Paper
    • Construction
    • Aerospace
    • Filtration






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