Dispersion of Cellulose Nanocrystals in Aqueous Media
NSERC – Collaborative Research and Development Grant (CRD)

Co-Applications: Dr. Michael Tam, University of Waterloo & Dr. Pascale Champagne, Queen’s University

Co-Organization: Ontario Centre of Excellence

Industry Partner: FP Innovations

In order to produce stable and processable cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs), fundamental understanding on the relationship between surface chemistry, interactions forces and colloidal stability of CNC is necessary. We will develop analytical tools for the quantification of interaction forces, macroscopic evaluation of the stability of CNC, and chemical modification of CNC. By careful analysis of the structural-property relationship between the surface properties of CNC and their interactions in aqueous solution, critical factors controlling the stability of CNC will be identified. Based on this knowledge, we will develop protocols for the manufacture of stable CNCs. We will also evaluate and elucidate the impact of additives on the colloidal stability of CNC. The impact of drying and modes of removal of hydrated water on the dispersability of CNC in water will be examined.

The role of functionalisation of CNC with oligomers or polymers on the colloidal stability of CNC will be pursued. The dual purposes of functionalisation are to introduce electrostatic and steric stabilisation to the CNC, and strategies to perform such modification within the current manufacturing process would be explored. Functionalisation not only enhance stability to CNC, but it can also be used to impart new properties and functionalities to the CNC that may be critical for their incorporation in product formulations. It is hope that this research will advance our understanding on the behaviour of CNC in aqueous solution that will enhance the application and use of CNC in new applications.