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Obtaining cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) in pilot industrial scale


New high performance materials from biomass are essential to add value to Brazilian agribusiness products. The National Chemical Industry Pact evidenced the importance of the use of biomass (e.g., lignocellulosic materials) to support the growth of the economy. Cellulose derivatives with high performance materials are essential for the economic development of Brazil. In recent years there has been an increase in the search for materials from renewable and sustainable sources, so-called "green materials". Cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) present good mechanical properties, low density and high crystallinity. Cellulose Nanocrystals (CNC) are obtained through acid hydrolysis of cellulose, have dimensions of 2 to 50 nm in diameter and length from a few nanometers to tens of microns, with high aspect ratio. They can be used for various applications, such as in the pulp and paper industry, in the manufacture of special papers and surface modification of papers; in polymer nanocomposites increasing mechanical and barrier properties; cosmetics; chemical industry; as mechanical reinforcements in paints and other applications. One of the current limiters in Brazil is the small-scale production of this material, which has been achieved only in university laboratories and research centers, in the range of a few grams per batch. Another aspect that limits a greater use of this material is time to obtain them, about 10 days per batch. To facilitate industrial-scale tests with CNC by companies and research centers in several production ranges, it is necessary to increase the scale of production for the kg range, together with a reduction of the total time for obtaining the CNC. The objective of this PIPE-Phase 1 project is researching methods to increase cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) production scale and reduce the time of its production, analyzing the technical and scientific feasibility, focused on CNC marketing. The methodology for obtaining CNC will be the acid hydrolysis of cellulose, as previous literature and experience of the coordinator. Modifications in the laboratory process of obtaining CNC and studies of reduction of unit operations of the laboratory process will be carried out, without loss of quality of obtained CNC. The expected results are the technical and scientific feasibility of CNC production, increasing the scale of production, with the generation of new industrial processes and intellectual property. These results will subsidize the sequence of this project in a PIPE-Phase 2 project. As impacts of this project are enabling CNC tests in various industries (chemical, pulp and paper, polymers, paints, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, pesticides, fertilizers, etc.) and greater support to the ongoing research in the research centers national, due to the increased supply of CNC. New materials with different performance and Brazilian products with CNC may emerge as impact of this project, with raw materials of value-added renewable source of Brazilian agribusiness, together with the generation of employment and income. (AU)

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