Journal of Materials Science, Vol.54, No.10, 8010-8022, 2019
Effect of solvent fractionation pretreatment on energy consumption of cellulose nanofabrication from switchgrass
Lignin-containing cellulose nanofibers (L-CNFs) with various lignin contents were produced by a grinding process from switchgrass, which were pretreated using organosolv fractionation. The effect of different fractionation conditions (temperature and time) and different number of grinder passes on the energy consumption and morphologies of L-CNFs were investigated. Results showed that nanosized fibers were found in organosolv-fractionated samples before grinding. After several grinding passes, L-CNFs with a similar degree of fibrillation as commercial cellulose nanofibers (CNF) were obtained from the fractionated materials. It is beneficial to save energy consumption in the grinding process. The dimensions and dispersion of L-CNFs were significantly influenced by the lignin content in the L-CNFs. Longer and well-separated nanofibrils were observed from transmission electron microscopy and fluorescence microscopy with appropriate residual lignin (similar to 13.7 +/- 1.59%) in the L-CNFs compared to those of L-CNFs with either lower or higher lignin contents. Therefore, microsized and nanosized lignin particles were successfully obtained in a single process, and they not only facilitated L-CNFs dispersion but also help to decrease the energy consumption during the grinding process.