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International Journal of Polymer Science
Volume 2011, Article ID 279610, 6 pages
Research Article

Isolation of Cellulose Nanofibers: Effect of Biotreatment on Hydrogen Bonding Network in Wood Fibers

Department of Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry, University of Toronto, 200 College Street, Toronto, ON, Canada M5S 3E5

Received 10 March 2011; Accepted 3 May 2011

Academic Editor: Susheel Kalia

Copyright © 2011 Sreekumar Janardhnan and Mohini Sain. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The use of cellulose nanofibres as high-strength reinforcement in nano-biocomposites is very enthusiastically being explored due to their biodegradability, renewability, and high specific strength properties. Cellulose, through a regular network of inter- and intramolecular hydrogen bonds, is organized into perfect stereoregular configuration called microfibrils which further aggregate to different levels to form the fibre. Intermolecular hydrogen bonding at various levels, especially at the elementary level, is the major binding force that one need to overcome to reverse engineer these fibres into their microfibrillar level. This paper briefly describes a novel enzymatic fibre pretreatment developed to facilitate the isolation of cellulose microfibrils and explores effectiveness of biotreatment on the intermolecular and intramolecular hydrogen bonding in the fiber. Bleached Kraft Softwood Pulp was treated with a fungus (OS1) isolated from elm tree infected with Dutch elm disease. Cellulose microfibrils were isolated from these treated fibers by high-shear refining. The % yield of nanofibres and their diameter distribution (<50 nm) isolated from the bio-treated fibers indicated a substantial increase compared to those isolated from untreated fibers. FT-IR spectral analysis indicated a reduction in the density of intermolecular and intramolecular hydrogen bonding within the fiber. X-ray spectrometry indicated a reduction in the crystallinity. Hydrogen bond-specific enzyme and its application in the isolation of new generation cellulose nano-fibers can be a huge leap forward in the field of nano-biocomposites.