Wenkai Zhu . Yang Zhang . Xiaoyu Wang . Yan Wu . Minsu Han .
Jungmok You . Chong Jia . Jeonghun Kim
Abstract Nanocellulose-based materials have attracted significant attention because of their attractive advantages. Particularly, aerogel, a porous nanocellulose material, have been used in diverse applications owing to their unique properties. In this study, short rod-like cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) and long filament-like cellulose nanofibers (CNFs) were isolated from a eucalyptus pulp source using acidolysis and oxidation/mechanical methods, respectively. Subsequently, two different aerogels were prepared from the CNCs and CNFs using the sol–gel method and their properties were compared. The morphology, chemical structure, chemical composition, shrinkage rate, internal structure, thermal degradation, biophysical properties, and mechanical properties of the as-prepared aerogels were compared. Furthermore, the shrinkage of the CNC and CNF aerogels was effectively controlled using a supercritical CO2 drying process. Additionally, three decomposition regions were observed in the thermogravimetric analysis curves of the aerogels; however, the CNF aerogels exhibited enhanced thermal stability than the CNC aerogels. Further, the CNC and CNF aerogels exhibited a mesoporous structure, and the compressive strength of the CNC and CNF aerogels under 85% strain was 269.5 and 299.5 kPa, respectively. This study provides fundamental knowledge on the fabrication of CNCs, CNFs, and corresponding aerogels from lignocellulosic biomass, and their characteristics.