An Alkaline Deep Eutectic Solvent Based on Potassium Carbonate and Glycerol as Pretreatment for the Isolation of Cellulose Nanocrystals from Empty Fruit Bunch

Pei Gie Gan, Sung Ting Sam, Muhammad Faiq Abdullah, Mohd Firdaus Omar, Lian See Tan

Abstract


Cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) were successfully isolated from oil palm empty fruit bunch (EFB) using sulphuric acid hydrolysis preceded by alkaline deep eutectic solvent (DES) pretreatment and bleaching. In this study, an alkaline DES consisting of potassium carbonate and glycerol (molar ratio of 1:7) was used as the pretreatment solvent to promote the dissolution of lignin and hemicellulose. The processing parameters of acid hydrolysis were optimized using Box-Behnken Design. The results showed that the yield of CNC was 37.1%, under the optimal conditions of 60.0 wt% acid concentration at 46.1 °C for 58.5 min. The field emission scanning electron microscopy (FESEM), chemical composition analysis, and Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) results indicated that unwanted impurities, such as hemicellulose and lignin, were efficiently eliminated from the raw EFB fibers by DES pretreatment and bleaching. The average diameter of CNC was less than 10 nm. The raw EFB fiber, treated cellulose, and CNC showed crystallinities of 38.7%, 51.2%, and 65.3%, respectively. The CNC had lower thermal stability, which was ascribed to the sulphate group present on the CNC surface.

Keywords


Empty fruit bunch; Cellulose nanocrystals; Optimization; Deep eutectic solvent; Acid hydrolysis

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