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An Environment-Friendly Method to Prepare Microcrystalline Cellulose

Research and development

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In this article a method is presented to prepare MCC from cellulose pulp employing an environment-friendly, effective two-step radiation-enzymatic depolymerisation process. The process was grounded on the radiation degradation by means of an electron beam to initially depolymerise the pulp prior to enzymatic hydrolysis. The cellulose pulp and the MCC made of it were estimated with the following quality indices: polymerisation degree, content of crystalline fraction (KWr), water retention value (WRV), specific volume, whiteness and grain coarseness. The characteristic of the molecular and crystalline structure of MCC as done by gel chromatography (GPC), the microscopic inspection of images and by the wide angle X-ray scattering (WAXS) method. It was documented that the results of preparing MCC by means of two-step depolymerisation depend primarily upon the average cellulose pulp polymerisation degree after enzymatic treatment. MCC preparation conditions recognised as optimal, may be specified as: irradiation of cellulose pulp with a 50 kGy dose followed by enzymatic hydrolysis during 0.5% at 50 °C and module E/S 46 UCMC/g. The depolymerised cellulose pulp is further processed in laboratory scale to form MCC by milling and drying. The MCC obtained is characterised by: DPv 150, a content of crystalline fraction (KWr) of about 64%, specific volume of 38 g/100 cm3and whiteness of 75%. Mass loss was 4.4% and the content of reducing sugars in the solution was 1.4 mg/cm3. The two-step depolymerisation route makes it possible to prepare MCC with quality indices close to materials used in the pharmaceutical industry, paving the way toward an ecological method of manufacturing microcrystalline cellulose for special uses.

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radiation-enzymatic depolymerisation, microcrystalline cellulose

Published in issue no 5-6 (64-65) / 2007, pages 167–172.

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