Nanocellulose - Progress of Natural Cellulose for Different Applications

Nanocellulose is defined as the by-products or extracts from natural cellulose, which is present in microorganisms, plants, and mammals. It is one of the most notable green materials of the modern era, which is cellulose in the form of nanostructures. NC materials have attracted increasing interest amongst the researchers recently. As of 2022, over 800 patents were published, while the total number of research papers crossed 6000 numbers. The rising interests is as a result of the alluring and exceptional qualities of nanocellulose. This include its abundance, high aspect ratio, superior mechanical capabilities, renewability, and biocompatibility. Researchers and the industry have been motivated to maximize the use of nanocellulose owing to increased demand and the use of novel applications.

Nanocellulose, which can currently be produced on an industrial scale at tonnes per day, can be used in a variety of applications in our daily lives. This includw nanocomposite materials, biomedical products, wood adhesives, batteries, super capacitors, templates for electronic components, continuous fibers and textiles, food coatings, barrier/separation membranes, antimicrobial films, paper products, cosmetics, and many other emerging uses. As of today, around 36% of the demand for NC comes from packaging, paper, and board, while about 20% is for filtration products, and over 23% for nanocomposites. Further, by 2030, the production of nanocellulose around the world is poised to cross 36,000 Tons/year, up from about 2400 Tons/year in the current day.

How is Nanocellulose Obtained?

By subjecting cellulose fibers to mechanical, oxidative, and enzymatic treatments as well as acid hydrolysis, nanocellulose can be produced. The most popular method is the chemical process of cellulose hydrolysis by acid solutions. Typically, cellulosic materials from wood and nonwood plants are acid hydrolyzed to produce nanocellulose. Wood is the primary raw material utilized to make cellulose on a global basis. In nations where wood is a limited natural resource, finding alternate sources of plant materials remains a top focus. Nonwood plants make a good alternate source for these raw elements needed to make pulp.


Main Categories of Nanocellulose:

  • Cellulose Filament (CF): Without any chemical or enzymatic processing, cellulose filament (CF) is a mechanically processed cellulose fibril. The fully mechanical process can "peel" fiber longitudinally, keeping their initial length as much as possible, while lowering their diameter by about a thousand times.
  • Cellulose Nanocrystal (CNC): Cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) are a kind of cellulose-based nanomaterials. These are rod-like or whisker-shaped and have a width of 3–20 nm, along with a length of 50–2000 nm. Depending on the source, it comprises 64–98% cellulose. It can often be made using a variety of techniques, the most popular of which is hydrolysis with mineral acids, particularly sulfuric acid (H2SO4), along with phosphoric acid (H3PO4) and hydrochloric acid (HCl). The acid process can yield high purity cellulose crystals by removing the majority of amorphous cellulose, giving the CNC a high crystallinity.
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  • Cellulose Nanofibril (CNF): Cellulose nanofibril (CNF) differs from carbon nanocrystal (CNC) in terms of size, content, and shape. It has a structure that is intricate, intertwined, and web-like. Compared to CNC, CNF's entanglement and percolation can raise the likelihood of fiber aggregation. CNF generally has a length of less than 0.2 mm and a width of 50 nm. It can be functionalized because of its high aspect ratio, low density, and high specific surface. Additionally, it is less crystalline and has more amorphous cellulose than CNC. Enzymatic hydrolysis, TEMPO-mediated oxidation, multi-pass high-pressure homogenization, and direct mechanical fibrillation are all methods for producing CNF.
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  • Bacterial Cellulose (BC): Numerous bacterial taxa, including Acetobacter, Achromobacter, Aerobacter, and Agrobacterium, among others, can manufacture bacterial cellulose (BC). Gluconacetobacter xylinus, formerly known as Acetobacter xylinum, is the most widely used strain of Gram-negative bacteria. The processes of fermentation and purification are crucial in the creation of cellulose made up of bacteria. The bacteria have the freedom to move about freely in the medium or connect to the cellulose fibers throughout the fermentation process, which results in a highly swollen gel structure. BC is an organic substance with the same chemical formula as plant cellulose (C6H10O5)n.

Usage of Nanocellulose

Nanocellulose is used in a variety of products. This include toys for kids and cleaners for oil spills. Moreover, from the utilization of nanocellulose, pharmaceutical, food, and medical industries can all be benefitted.

  • It can serve as a strengthening agent when paper and cardboard are made. In fact, it can be employed as a material that protects against oxygen, water vapor, grease, and oil if used in coatings for food packaging. Additionally, there may be applications in the domains of medicine, the military, design, and electronics. For instance, it might be applied to the development of flexible organic light emitting diodes (OLED) displays, the building of aircraft, or even the design of uniforms for the military.
  • Owing to its light weight and excellent strength, nanocellulose is a strong candidate to replace metals in the production of vehicles, which would increase efficiency.
  • Nanocellulose is widely employed in packaging techniques, for the reinforcement of plastic materials, in the industry of food additives, hygiene, and absorbent products, as well as for a variety of other uses. It can be used to reinforce paper and cardboard.
  • Nanocellulose (NC), which is obtained from natural wood fiber or other plant sources, may be added to food as a thickening or binder or used in food packaging to assist extend shelf life (superior to its micron-scale counterpart). Additional possible uses for nanocellulose (NC) include enhancing food quality and safety.
  • As a non-caloric fiber source, added to bread dough to increase bulk and improve texture of the baked good, used as a stabilizing agent for foams (such as whipped toppings) or emulsions (such as salad dressings), incorporated into ground meats to help retain moisture during cooking.
  • Nanocellulose-based sensors could be used to monitor bridges and other structures to measure their degrees of stress.
  • Rubber latex, thermosetting resins, soy protein, and starch-based matrixes can all benefit from the usage of nanocelluose to enhance their mechanical qualities.

Usage of Nanocellulose in Cosmetic,

Pharmaceutical & Medical Products

  • The form of freeze-dried nanocellulose aerogels can be employed in tampons, sanitary towels, or wound treatment.
  • Pharmaceutical formulations use powdered nanocellulose as an excipient.
  • Nanocellulose is a composite coating substance that can be utilized in nail, hair, brow, and eyelash products.

Characteristics of Nanocellulose

The source, isolation method, and potential later surface modifications all affect the characteristics of nanocellulose.

  • The primary component, cellulose, is the most prevalent polymer on the planet.
  • Its tensile strength is eight times greater than that of steel.
  • Lightweight
  • Gas cannot pass through the translucent, crystalline form.
  • It can be produced efficiently and in large quantities.

When does Marine Cyber Risk Become Active?

  • To increase the supply of nutrients to crops and decrease the release of non-biodegradable chemicals into the environment, a research team associated with the Laboratory of Polymeric Materials and Bio sorbents at the Federal University of So Carlos (UFSCar) in Araras, So Paulo state, Brazil, has created and is testing cellulose-based materials for enhanced-efficiency fertilizers. Given that nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium are extremely soluble, researchers explain how they used modified nanocellulose to release the nutrients present in fertilizer into the soil gradually and in a regulated manner.
  • According to a recent study of University of Maine, the usage of nanocellulose along with liquid fertilizer applied to the leaves may help enhance the output from wild blueberry plants. The group discovered a little improvement in output among the common lowbush blueberries that were given the nanocellulose-infused fertilizer. The reduction in particle size of the nutrients from the fertilizer, which made it simpler for the blueberry leaves to absorb them and encouraged an increase in intake, is thought to be the cause of the enhanced output.

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