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(3) Introduction: What is Nanocellulose?

Nanocellulose is a light solid substance obtained from plant matter which comprises
nanosized cellulose fibrils. This new material is a pseudo-plastic and possesses the
property of specific kinds of fluids or gels that are generally thick in normal
conditions. The lateral dimensions of nanocellulose range from 5 to 20 nm, and the
longitudinal dimension ranges from a few 10's of nanometers to several microns.

Nanocellulose is transparent, electrically conductive, and stronger than steel.

Properties of Nanocellulose
The properties of nanocellulose are listed below:
Stiffer than Kevlar
Electrically conductive
The crystalline form is transparent, and gas impermeable
It can be produced in large quantities in a cost-effective manner
It has a very high tensile strength - 8 times that of steel
It is highly absorbent when used as a basis for aerogels or foams.
The raw material - cellulose - is the most abundant polymer on earth

Production of Nanocellulose

Nanocellulose is generally produced from wood pulp though it can also be prepared
from any cellulosic source material. Nanocellulose is produced using the following
Remove non-cellulose impurities from the wood pulp using a homogenizer.
The high-pressure homogenizers used in the production process helps
delaminate the cell walls of the fibers and separate the nanosized fibrils.
Separate the cellulose fibers by beating the mixture gently.
Allow the fibers to form a thick paste of needle-like crystals or a spaghetti-like
structure of cellulose fibrils.
The thick paste that is obtained can be shaped and readily used to laminate
Once it is completely separated from the wood pulp, the nanocellulose is in a water
suspension. At this stage, care should be taken to prevent the formation of rough
clumps in cases when the cellulose fibers stick together as the material dries.
Researchers have thus developed a process that allows nanocellulose to dry without
the formation of rough clumps. This process thus prevents the cellulose fibrils from
sticking together and enables the cellulose fibers to retain their mechanical

Nanocellulose up-close: This TEM image of a nanocellulose membrane shows the

individual cellulose nanofibers. Image credit: Prof. Mohini Sain, University of Toronto

Applications of Nanocellulose
Nanocellulose could be ideal for use inVEHICLE manufacture - it's light weight and
high strength make it a good candidate for replacement of metals to improve
Research presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society in March
2012 demonstrated that a nanocellulose aerogel could be used to make a boat that
could support 1000 times it's own weight.
Research presented at an earlier meeting also proposed using nanocellulose for
parts of cars, like bumpers, side panels and dashboards, making them 3-4 times
stronger and around 30% lighter.

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Nanocellulose has a wide range of applications, from cleaning of oil spills to usage
in childrens toys. Nanocellulose can be used in pharmaceutical, food and medical
industries. This new material can also replace some petrochemical-based products
and is very likely to be cheaper than most other kinds of high-performance
nanoscale materials. Given below are the key applications of nanocellulose:
Nanocellulose sheets can be used forELECTRONIC displays and windows.
Nanocellulose-based sensors could help in monitoring structures like bridges
to detect their stress levels.
Nanocellulose can be used as a food packaging material that prevents the
spoiling of food contents and entry of oxygen in the food contents. This new
material thus replaces the use of polystyrene-based foams.
In food products, nanocellulose can be used as flavor carriers and suspension
Nanocellulose is safe to be used as a food thickener.
When used in paper products, nanocellulose helps to improve the fiber to
fiber bond strength and acts as a barrier in grease-proof type papers.
It can be used as wet-end additive toENHANCE retention, dry and wet
strength in commodity type of board and paper products.
Nanocelluose can be used to improve the mechanical properties of rubber
latex, thermosetting resins, soy protein and starch-based matrixes.
Nanocellulose can be used as fracturing fluid in oil recovery applications.

In the medical field, nancellulose can be used for antimicrobial films and water
absorbent pads. Nanocellulose can also be used in non-woven products or
Nanocellulose applications in cosmetic, pharmaceutical and medical products are
listed below:
Nanocellulose can be used in tampons, sanitary napkins or wound dressing in
the form of freeze-dried nanocellulose aerogels.
Intestinal disorders can be treated byTABLETS comprising dry solid
Nanocellulose can be used as a composite coating agent in cosmetics for
nails, hair, eyebrows or eyelashes.
Nanocellulose in a powdered form is used as an excipient in pharmaceutical

Nanocellulose with its lightweight, high strength and transparent properties is of
great interest for many applications in a wide variety of areas. The material that is of
immense significance in the ongoing commercialization of nanotechnologies, and
researchers and industrialists are analyzing and exploring new manufacturing
process and applications for nanocellulose.
Nanocellulose has been considered as a less expensive alternative to carbon fiber
andGLASS fiber for some applications, and is also considered a useful material by
the paper and pulp industries that use nanocellulose as an efficient means to
increase absorbency in several products such as napkins, ketches towels, etc.
Nanocellulose thus plays a vital role in medical, food and pharmaceutical industries
and also in several materials that are widely used commercially. It can also improve

the environmental footprint of many of these industries by replacing synthetic or

petrochemical-based materials.