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Sharma H.S.S.,Plant Health and Environmental Protection Branch | Carmichael E.,Plant Health and Environmental Protection Branch | Carmichael E.,Queens University of Belfast | Muhamad M.,Queens University of Belfast | And 5 more authors.
RSC Advances | Year: 2012

This study has demonstrated biorefining steps for ryegrass and silage at a pilot scale to extrude fibre cake for the production of nanofibrillated cellulose (NFC), a potentially green biomaterial for replacing conventional fillers in the manufacture of polymer composites. Further treatments of processed ryegrass fibres with mechanical shearing, microfluidising, hydrochloric acid (HCl)/sulphuric acid and a four stage {ethylenediaminetetra- acetic acid, sodium hydroxide, sodium hypochlorite and HCl} hydrolysis yielded 43.8, 36.1, 25.6 and 39.8 kg t -1 DM of NFCs respectively. The NFCs were characterised using microscopy, X-ray diffraction, dynamic light scattering, spectroscopy and thermogravimetry. The NFC had diameters from 3.0-9.1 nm and length 308 nm-4.6 μm. NFC-polyvinyl alcohol composites containing NFC (5 wt%) exhibited enhanced Young's modulus and thermal stability by factors of 2.5 and 2 respectively compared with control. The mass, energy, water and chemical balances of the four process steps were assessed to evaluate technical feasibility and also to provide baseline production data for scaling up. The microfluidised product has been identified as the best NFC product, but production cost needs to be reduced. This journal is © 2012 The Royal Society of Chemistry.

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