Isolation of a novel, crystalline cellulose material from the spent liquor of cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs)

Thomas Q. Hu, Raed Hashaikeh, Richard M. Berry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


We have modified the standard sulphuric acid hydrolysis method for the production of cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) to successfully isolate a novel, highly crystalline cellulose material from the spent liquor of CNCs. The novel material has a cellulose II crystal structure that is distinctly different from the cellulose I crystal structure of CNCs. The modified method uses a shorter time for the hydrolysis, followed by maintaining a high residual acid concentration for the separation of the spent liquor and CNCs, and by adding the spent liquor to water. The modified method offers an opportunity to concurrently produce CNCs in up to ~40 % yield and the novel, highly crystalline, sulphated cellulose II in ~15 % yield in separate and pure forms from sulphuric acid hydrolysis of a commercial northern bleached softwood kraft pulp. It can potentially reduce the production cost of CNCs, allow easier downstream processing of CNCs and recovery of sulphuric acid, and generate a new cellulose bio-material for product development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3217-3229
Number of pages13
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2014



  • Cellulose I
  • Cellulose II
  • Cellulose nanocrystals
  • Crystal structure
  • Hydrolysis
  • Sulphuric acid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Polymers and Plastics

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