Strategic Development for Pilot Plant Optimization of Cellulose Nanocrystals (CNC) Production

C. Danumah, B. Ahvazi
InnoTech Alberta,

Keywords: feedstock, pretreatment, pilot plant, acid hydrolysis, production, optimization, cellulose nanocrystals


Cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) have been shown to have desirable properties for utilization in various industrial and commercial applications such as fibre reinforced composite materials and as a rheological additive in water based industrial fluids. To date, a universal standardized process for CNC production has not been developed. Meanwhile, the current processes for large scale production is not cost effective and faces problems such as feedstock preparation, utilization of high concentration of sulfuric acid, and caustic leading to low production yield. In an attempt to improve the CNC production yield for large-scale pilot plant production, a number of different laboratory experiments were validated at the large-scale pilot plant. The experimental data has shown that CNC production yield could be improved from conventional 17% up to 60%. This improvement was suggested to be due to the synergistic effect from feedstock pre-treatment as well as optimization of different acid concentrations, reaction time and temperature.