Honors College
 

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Publication Date

5-2014

Abstract

Nanocellulose has attracted attention from academic researchers and industrial corporations worldwide. It is a sustainable raw material with remarkable strength and rheological properties. The industrial production of nanocellulose is an aqueous process; however, many of its valuableproperties are lost upon water removal. Indeed, once dried, nanocellulose irreversibly assembles into a plastic-like material. Currently it can betoo expensive to transport the aqueous suspensions. In order to mitigate high transportation costs, a methodmust be developed to dry and rehydrate nanocellulose whilst maintaining its nano-morphology. The current work demonstrates that the introduction of a cationic surfactant into the aqueous nanocellulose suspensionyields a chemical dewatering effect similar to that observed in papermaking, weakening the intercellulosic hydrogen bonds and allowing for reduced energy requirements during redispersion.

Specifically, the current study employs cetyltrimethylammonium bromide (CTAB), a cationic surfactant in an effort to rehydrate nanocellulose whilst maintaining the desired nano-scale morphology. Fiber sizehas been characterized in both the liquid and solid phases using laser diffraction and scanning electron microscopy (SEM), respectively. In addition, it has beendemonstrated that recovery of CTAB from dried nanocellulose pads may be achieved by soaking dried pads in an organic solvent.The recovery of CTAB will allow for a recycling step after the proposed drying process.

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