Acid-Catalyzed and Solvolytic Desulfation of H2SO4-Hydrolyzed Cellulose Nanocrystals

2010-12-07T00:00:00Z (GMT) by Feng Jiang Alan R. Esker Maren Roman
Cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) prepared by H2SO4 hydrolysis have sulfate groups on their surface, which have negative implications for some CNC applications. In this study, two desulfation methods were evaluated, and the properties of desulfated CNCs were compared to those of unsulfated CNCs, prepared by HCl hydrolysis. H2SO4-hydrolyzed CNCs from softwood sulfite pulp were subjected to either a mild acid hydrolytic desulfation or a solvolytic desulfation in dimethyl sulfoxide via the pyridinium salt. Removal of the sulfate groups was confirmed by conductometric titration and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. The effect of the desulfation procedure on the lateral crystallite dimensions was analyzed by X-ray diffraction. The extent of particle aggregation in the samples was assessed by atomic force microscopy and dynamic light scattering. The acid hydrolytic method achieved only partial desulfation and produced gradually decreasing sulfate contents upon successive repetition. The solvolytic method achieved nearly complete desulfation in a single step. The desulfated CNCs showed similar particle aggregation as the HCl-hydrolyzed CNCs, but the extent of aggregation was slightly less.