Nanocellulose is typically stored and transported as a gel with a nominal solid content of up to 5 wt.-% to avoid interfibril hornification, i.e. the formation of irreversible hydrogen bonds between adjacent nanocellulose upon drying, which makes nanocellulose not cost-effective. In this work, we report the use of low molecular weight liquid poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG-200) as a replacement for the water phase in nanocellulose aqueous gel. Our results indicated that nanocellulose can be stored in PEG-200 at a solid content of up to 70 wt.-% without interfibril hornification, even when exposed to the ambient environment. This is due to the low vapour pressure and high boiling point of PEG-200. ATR-FTIR and ζ-potential measurements confirmed that PEG-200 can be easily washed out from the nanocellulose as PEG-200 is water miscible. Using PEG-200 as a replacement for the water phase in nanocellulose aqueous gel could improve the cost-efficiency of nanocellulose storage and transportation. The tensile properties of the cellulose nanopaper prepared from the various never-dried and once-dried nanocellulose are also discussed in this work.
- Fibrillated cellulose