Table of Contents Author Guidelines Submit a Manuscript
International Journal of Polymer Science
Volume 2015, Article ID 871345, 8 pages
Research Article

Optimized Monitoring of Production of Cellulose Nanowhiskers from Opuntia ficus-indica (Nopal Cactus)

1Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, Carretera Lago de Guadalupe, Km. 3.5, Colonia Margarita Maza de Juárez, 52926 Atizapán de Zaragoza, Mexico
2Centro de Investigación en Ciencia Aplicada y Tecnología Avanzada, Instituto Politécnico Nacional, Legaria 694, Colonia Irrigación, 11500 Ciudad de México, Mexico

Received 5 September 2015; Accepted 8 November 2015

Academic Editor: Arthur J. Ragauskas

Copyright © 2015 Horacio Vieyra et al. 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.


Preparation of cellulose nanowhiskers (CNWs) has grown significantly because they are useful for a wide range of applications. Additional advantage in their design requires that they meet the following characteristics: nontoxicity, abundance, sustainability, renewability, and low cost. To address these requirements, nanowhiskers were prepared from Opuntia ficus-indica (nopal) cellulose by acid hydrolysis. Monitoring the process of CNWs preparation is necessary to ensure maximum yield and purity of the end product. In this study, the cellulose preparation was monitored by analyzing microscopic morphology by SEM; the purity degree was determined by fluorescence microscopy as a novel and rapid technique, and FTIR spectroscopy was used for confirmation. The additional parameters that monitored the process were the crystallinity index by X-ray diffraction and the size of the particle by dynamic light scattering (DLS). Nopal cellulose was found to be comparable to commercial microcrystalline cellulose. The use of Opuntia ficus-indica is a viable alternative for the production of highly pure CNWs and the strategy to supervise the preparation process was rapid.