Two renewable resources – cellulose from wood pulp and chitin from the shells of crabs, lobsters and other crustaceans – are known by industrial chemists for their potential for making highly versatile nanocrystals, useful for making pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, industrial additives and much more.
A team of researchers, led by McGill University professor of chemistry Audrey Moores, graduate student Tony Jin and National Research Council Canada (NRC) collaborator Edmond Lam, has developed a new, environmentally sensitive way to produce these nanocrystals through a process called high-humidity shaker aging. The new technique represents an advance over existing methods in that it costs less, uses less water and eliminates the need for toxic solvents, while yielding higher yields.
“This research is important because in the pulp and paper industry, or the treatment of shellfish waste, the use of water and the production of wastewater is the main cause of environmental concerns and consequently industrial constraints,” said Professor Moores.
The work, published in Angewandte Chemistry, builds on a history of pioneering developments by McGill researchers in solvent-free mechanochemistry, using physical force (grinding, shaking, grinding, etc.) to drive chemical reactions. By combining a milling technique with an aging process in a high-humidity environment, the researchers were able to produce high-quality nanocrystals with greater control than using mechanical methods alone.
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Tony Jin et al, High Humidity Shaker Aging to Access Chitin and Cellulose Nanocrystals**, International edition of Angewandte Chemie (2022). DOI: 10.1002/anie.202207206
Quote: Research team develops a cleaner, more cost-effective way to make useful industrial chemicals (2022, October 5) retrieved October 5, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-10-team-cleaner-cost-effective-industrial -chemicals.html
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