Totally chlorine-free peracetic acid pulping for nanocellulose isolation from hemp and poplar, TAPPI Journal August 2023

Application: This study investigated a TCF method using peracetic acid to isolate nanocellulose from two important bioenergy crops — poplar and hemp. We have found that both botanical origins and pretreatment procedures have influence on the geometry, crystallinity, zeta potential, and water interactions of nanocellulose.

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Author: R. Kheam, K. Zhang, T. Elder, N. Bryant, A. Ragauskas, and M. Li
Totally chlorine-free peracetic acid pulping for nanocellulo
ABSTRACT: Nanocellulose is a promising and sustainable feedstock for developing advanced and functional materials. However, the characteristics of nanocellulose, such as crystallinity, surface energy, and aspect ratio, can vary depending on biomass source and pretreatment methods, leading to variable performance of the nanocellulose-based materials. In this study, cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) were isolated from hemp and poplar using totally chlorine free (TCF) peracetic acid and sodium chlorite delignification and bleaching pretreatments to probe the influences of biomass source and treatment methods on the isolation and characteristics of CNCs. Our results showed that hemp and poplar were almost completely delignified by peracetic acid treatment, whereas sodium chlorite treatment left 5%•6% lignin in the pulp. The yields of CNCs from raw hemp and poplar biomass ranged from 9.8% to 21.9% and 10.9% to 28.3%, respectively, depending on the treatment methods. The dimensions of CNCs from TCF-treated biomass generally maintained a larger width and aspect ratio than those from sodium chlorite-treated biomass. The poplar-derived CNCs exhibited slightly higher crystallinity of 53%•58% than hemp-derived CNCs of 49%•54%. The zeta potential of the CNCs, ranging from -20.1 mV to -31.1 mV, ensured a well-dispersed aqueous solution. The surface energy (dispersive energy of 40•80 mJ/m2 and specific energy of 2•10 mJ/m2), water interaction, and thermal stability of the CNCs were comparable, regardless of the biomass source and pretreatment methods. Our finding suggests that the TCF technique with peracetic acid treatment is a promising delignification and bleaching approach to obtain cellulose-rich pulps from herbaceous and hardwood biomass for nanocellulose isolation.

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