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Industrial application of pretreatments for obtaining high quality cellulose nanofibrils

Published on March 30, 2021
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PhD Defense March 19, 2021

Gabriel Banvillet, PhD student of the LGP2, defended his doctoral thesis: "Industrial application of pretreatments for obtaining high quality cellulose nanofibrils".

This doctoral thesis was prepared at the Université Grenoble Alpes under the supervision of Julien Bras, Associate Professor HDR, and of the Professor Naceur Belgacem, and the co-supervision of Denis Curtil, Research Engineer (Grenoble INP-Pagora/LGP2).



Gabriel Banvillet presented the results of his research entitled Industrial application of pretreatments for obtaining high quality cellulose nanofibrils. The development of biobased materials with a wide range of properties has become a key issue in today’s society, to move towards a durable bioeconomy. In this context, cellulose nanofibrils (CNF) are very promising, due to their interesting mechanical, optical, rheological and barrier properties.  

However, several technological challenges still restrain their cost-efficient production at the industrial scale, such as the toxicity issues of the cellulose pretreatments or the high energy consumption of the mechanical fibrillation processes. This project in collaboration with Arjowiggins (scientific contact: Gaël Depres) via a CIFRE-ANRT funding aims at developing innovative pretreatments and optimize several mechanical fibrillation processes, with an objective of producing high quality CNF at the industrial scale.

First, three pretreatments were studied, involving a coupled alkaline and enzymatic treatment, the adsorption of a polyelectrolyte, and in situ enzymatic hydrolysis at high solid content during fibrillation by twin-screw extrusion. Then, a disk refining process was optimized for CNF production, for the implementation of these pretreatments at the pilot scale. Several industrial trials with a specific tracing paper refining line also underlined the relevance of this process for large scale CNF production, leading to a significant decrease of energy consumption compared to conventional processes. Finally, disk refining was combined with twin-screw extrusion, ultra-fine grinding and homogenization, respectively. This strategy enabled to overcome the limitation of CNF quality encountered with the use of refining alone.

The results of this project contribute to the knowledge on pretreatments and processes for cellulose nanofibrils production, and are a step towards their efficient production at industrial scale.
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Date of update June 22, 2021

Université Grenoble Alpes