Iranian researchers at Tarbiat Modarres University managed to extract cellulose nanocrystals from wheat straw (one of the agricultural wastes).
"Cellulose is a kind of natural polymer which has a highly organized microfibrillar structure and is constantly produced by plants and some animals. Our research subject was to extract these nanostructures and study their properties", Dr. Rabi Behrouz, a faculty member and the research deputy of the natural resources department at Tarbiat Modarres University, said.
The process of extraction, cellulose properties, and effect of hydrolysis conditions on the production of cellulose nanocrystals from wheat straw (one of the agricultural wastes) were investigated in this research.
Elaborating on the nano-cellulose extraction process, Behrouz stated, "Two different two-step methods were adopted to extract and purify cellulose. The first step was different in the two methods and comprised acid/base lignin elimination and soda-anthraquinone."
"The second one was similar in both methods and comprised extraction of holocellulose and cellulose. The purity of cellulose samples was analyzed. Sample cellulose with higher crystallinity degree was chosen and underwent hydrolysis."
"The results reveal that nano-cellulose obtained from one of the methods has higher purity but it has less crystallinity degree. SEM and TEM images show that the shape and morphology of nanocrystals could be spherical, rod-like or a combination of them according to the conditions," he added.
Owing to exclusive resistance properties and its natural essence, cellulose nanoparticles have extensive applications in cosmetic industry, medical and electronic equipments, food and high quality papers especially nanocomposites.