A step closer to sustainable industrial production: Tailor the properties of nanocrystalline cellulose from oil palm empty fruit bunch

Mei Ling Foo, Chien Wei Ooi, Khang Wei Tan, Irene Mei Leng Chew

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18 Citations (Scopus)


There is an imperative need to tackle the huge amount of solid wastes from the palm oil production. The current utilization of oil palm biomass and waste management were deemed ineffective to the economic and environmental development. We proposed a sustainable solution to the management of oil palm waste using empty fruit bunch (EFB) to obtain nanocrystalline cellulose (NCC). The diverse properties of NCC were largely attributed to the origin of biomass and the isolation method. This demonstrated the importance of investigating the process parameters in a quantitative manner to ensure the effective production and exploitation of NCC. Response surface methodology was adopted to analyze the interaction effects of size, yield and crystallinity on the NCC production. The size of the acid-hydrolyzed NCC ranging from 15-27 nm in width and 170-317 nm in length was confirmed through the scanning transmission electron microscopy. The crystallinity obtained from the experiments as developed by Box-Behnken design was in the range of 70.35-83.20%, where it exhibited an inverse relation with the hydrolysis yield of NCC in the range of 4.11-80.23%. Through investigating the correlation of responses, an optimum point was obtained at which the yield and crystallinity of NCC were the highest, while the size of NCC was the lowest. The good model reliability indicated that the tailoring of the properties of EFB-origin NCC is feasible, suggesting EFB as a highly promising alternative to alleviate the resource depletion of wood pulp in the development of bio-based material.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104058
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Environmental Chemical Engineering
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020


  • crystalline nanocellulose
  • crystallinity
  • Optimization
  • response surface methodology
  • sulfuric acid hydrolysis
  • yield

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