Isolation and characterization of cellulose nanofibers from aspen wood using derivatizing and non-derivatizing pretreatments
Cellulose 2019, First Online October 3
Jonasson S, Bünder A, Niittylä T, Oksman K

Abstract
The link between wood and corresponding cellulose nanofiber (CNF) behavior is complex owing the multiple chemical pretreatments required for successful preparation. In this study we apply a few pretreatments on aspen wood and compare the final CNF behavior in order to rationalize quantitative studies of CNFs derived from aspen wood with variable properties. This is relevant for efforts to improve the properties of woody biomass through tree breeding. Three different types of pretreatments were applied prior to disintegration (microfluidizer) after a mild pulping step; derivatizing TEMPO-oxidation, carboxymethylation and non-derivatizing soaking in deep-eutectic solvents. TEMPO-oxidation was also performed directly on the plain wood powder without pulping. Obtained CNFs (44–55% yield) had hemicellulose content between 8 and 26 wt% and were characterized primarily by fine (height ≈ 2 nm) and coarser (2 nm < height < 100 nm) grade CNFs from the derivatizing and non-derivatizing treatments, respectively. Nanopapers from non-derivatized CNFs had higher thermal stability (280 °C) compared to carboxymethylated (260 °C) and TEMPO-oxidized (220 °C). Stiffness of nanopapers made from non-derivatized treatments was higher whilst having less tensile strength and elongation-at-break than those made from derivatized CNFs. The direct TEMPO-oxidized CNFs and nanopapers were furthermore morphologically and mechanically indistinguishable from those that also underwent a pulping step. The results show that utilizing both derivatizing and non-derivatizing pretreatments can facilitate studies of the relationship between wood properties and final CNF behavior. This can be valuable when studying engineered trees for the purpose of decreasing resource consumption when isolation cellulose nanomaterials.

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