Preparation and characterization of cellulose nanofibrils using various pretreatment techniques
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Cellulose nanofibrils (CNF) has received a great attention due to its renewability, biodegradability and remarkable mechanical properties. This study investigated the effects of mechanical pretreatment using a shear cutting mill and low-concentration NaOH pretreatment on the production and properties of CNF. Three-cycle shear cutting of fluff pulp was suitable for producing CNF precursors, while consuming lower energy compared with other mechanical pretreatments by wet milling methods. Low-concentration NaOH (2wt.%) at low temperature (below 0 ℃) was a promising alternative condition to prepare CNF with improved thermal stability. CNF produced with 2wt% NaOH had comparable properties with the standard CNF produced at pilot scale. A life cycle assessment study on the CNF production concluded that the integration of mechanical and alkaline pretreatments potentially reduced the overall energy consumption and the global warming potentials. Further research is required to validate the proposed pretreatment techniques prior to commercialization.