Characterization of cellulose supramolecular structure using solid-state NMR
Conference poster, 2014
Cellulose I isolated from wood in the form of cellulose-rich fibres, i.e. as a pulp, is a widely used raw material that holds a potential for further and more versatile use. Due to its abundance cellulose can be a benign replacement for many materials used in everyday
Isolated cellulose I is associated with a complex supramolecular structure (in the nanometres
dimensional range), and in the case of cellulose-rich
fibres it is also associated with a complex fibre wall morphology (typical wood fibres are millimetres long and tenths of micrometres wide).
The main advantage of using cellulose-rich fibres is an existence of a worldwide industry which has the processing equipment and the know-how necessary for efficient handling and processing of wood-based pulps.
Utilization of cellulose I is dependent on the reactivity of the cellulose substrate, here the term reactivity is used in a broad sense. Enzymatic conversion of cellulose-rich fibres to sugars or the dissolution of cellulose for textile fibre manufacture is two examples where different aspects of the cellulose
reactivity are important for efficient processing.
Several methods for characterizing various aspects of cellulose are available. The degree of polymerization and the degree of cellulose crystallinity are two examples. In the case of cellulose-rich fibres its carbohydrate composition can be of importance. Traditionally less
attention has been paid to the supramolecular characteristics of cellulose although they are in a dimensional range that could exert an influence on the chemistry used.
The present work deals with the characterization of the supramolecular properties of cellulose and cellulose-rich fibres and illustrates some examples where the supramolecular structure of the cellulose is a controlling factor for its reactivity.
Most of the presented work is based on CP/MAS 13 C-NMR measurements. Using this technique it has been shown that robust measurements of cellulose nanostructures such as
lateral fibril dimensions and lateral fibril aggregate dimensions can be obtained and how subsequently the specific surface area of the cellulose in a water-swollen state can be estimated. Moreover, by combining NMR results
with measurements of the amount of water located inside a water-swollen fibre wall, estimates of the average fibre wall pore size can be obtained. Such results have been
related to data from enzymatic hydrolysis of cellulose-rich
fibres to illustrate the influence of supramolecular structure on enzymatic reactivity.