This nanocellulose item comes courtesy of Iran, from a July 29, 2014 news item on Nanowerk (Note: A link has been removed),
Researchers from Amir Kabir University of Technology succeeded in the synthesis of cellulose nanoparticles by using two environmentally-friendly processes (“Spherical cellulose nanoparticles preparation from waste cotton using a green method”).
The use of waste cotton fibers for the production of cellulose nanoparticles is among the interesting points in this research.
In addition to biodegradability and the ability to be recovered and re-used, cellulose nanoparticles are light and cheap, and they have very desirable mechanical properties. Therefore, they have high potential to be used in pharmaceutics, foodstuff, cosmetics, paper production and composite manufacturing.
A July 29, 2014 Iran Nanotechnology Initiative Council (INIC) news release, which originated the news item, provides more detail about the research,
Dr. Tayyebeh Fattahi Mei-abadi, one of the researchers, explained about the advantages of this method over the usual methods, and said, “In this project, spherical cellulose nanoparticles were produced from waste cotton fibers through enzyme hydrolysis and ultrasound methods. Acidic hydrolysis is usually used in the majority of the researches on the production of cellulose nanoparticles. This method is not in agreement with environmental issues, and it leaves byproducts. But in this research, enzyme hydrolysis method was used, which enables the production of nanoparticles under mild condition without any environmental damage, and it does not require specific equipment. In addition, ultrasonic process was carried out with low energy in a short period, which makes cost-effective the production of cellulose nanoparticles through this method.”
In the production of the nanoparticles, various parts of cellulose enzyme were attached to cellulose chains, and they started to hydrolyze crystalline and amorphous areas. As hydrolysis goes on, particles with average size of 520 nm are formed. Then, ultrasound energy converts the hydrolyzed fibers into nanoparticles at about 70 nm in size.
Here’s a link to and a citation for the paper,
Spherical cellulose nanoparticles preparation from waste cotton using a green method by Tayebeh Fattahi Meyabadi, Fatemeh Dadashian, Gity Mir Mohamad Sadeghi, and Hamid Ebrahimi Zanjani Asl.Powder Technology Volume 261, July 2014, Pages 232–240 DOI: 10.1016/j.powtec.2014.04.039
This paper is behind a paywall.