Benchmarking Cellulose Nanocrystals Part II: New Industrially Produced Materials
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The demand for industrially produced cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) has been growing since 2012, when CelluForce Inc. opened its inaugural demonstration plant with a production capacity of 1 tonne per day. Currently, there are 10 industrial CNC producers worldwide, each producing a unique material. Thus, academic researchers and commercial users alike must consider the properties of all available CNCs and carefully select the material which will optimize the performance of their desired application. To support these efforts, this article presents a thorough characterization of four new industrially produced CNCs including sulfated CNCs from NORAM Engineering and Constructors Ltd. (in cooperation with InnoTech Alberta and Alberta-Pacific Forest Industries Inc.) and Melodea Ltd., as well as carboxylated CNCs from Anomera Inc. and Blue Goose Biorefineries Inc. These materials were benchmarked against typical lab-made, sulfated CNCs. While all CNCs were similar in size, shape, crystallinity, and suspension quality, the sulfated CNCs had a higher surface charge density than their carboxylated counterparts, leading to higher colloidal stability. Additionally, significant differences in the rheological profiles of aqueous CNC suspensions, as well as CNC thermal stability and self-assembly behavior, were observed. As such, this article highlights both the subtle and significant differences between five CNC types and acts as a guide for end-users looking to optimize the performance of CNC-based materials.
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