Drying cellulose nanofibrils: in search of a suitable method
Increasing research activity on cellulose nanofibril-based materials provides great opportunities for novel, scalable manufacturing approaches. Cellulose nanofibrils (CNFs) are typically processed as aqueous suspensions because of their hydrophilic nature. One of the major manufacturing challenges is to obtain dry CNFs while maintaining their nano-scale dimensions. Four methods were examined to dry cellulose nanocrystal and nanofibrillated cellulose suspensions: (1) oven drying, (2) freeze drying (FD), (3) supercritical drying (SCD), and (4) spray-drying (SD). The particle size and morphology of the CNFs were determined via dynamic light scattering, transmission electron microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, and morphological analysis. SCD preserved the nano-scale dimensions of the cellulose nanofibrils. FD formed ribbon-like structures of the CNFs with nano-scale thicknesses. Width and length were observed in tens to hundreds of microns. SD formed particles with a size distribution ranging from nanometer to several microns. Spray-drying is proposed as a technically suitable manufacturing process to dry CNF suspensions.
Peng, Y., Gardner, D. J., & Han, Y. (2012). Drying cellulose nanofibrils: in search of a suitable method. Cellulose, 19(1), 91-102.