From vapour to gas: Optimising cellulose degradation with gaseous HCl

Timo Pääkkönen*, Panagiotis Spiliopoulos, Aaro Knuts, Kaarlo Nieminen, Leena Sisko Johansson, Eric Enqvist, Eero Kontturi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
196 Downloads (Pure)


A cellulose degradation technique utilizing a pressurized HCl gas (up to 100 kPa) device is introduced. High pressure HCl quickly degraded cellulose in purified cotton linters, reaching the so-called levelling-off degree of polymerisation (LODP) in less than 1.5 h. LODP marks the point where the disordered portions of cellulose microfibrils have been degraded and only the crystalline portions remain, generally signalling the end of cellulose degradation unless remarkably high concentrations are used. In the present high pressure system, however, continued hydrolysis following the LODP was detected by incremental release of sugars from the hydrolysate after its exposure to water, supposedly caused by erosion from the cellulose crystallite ends. With minimal water consumption and the ease of recycling the gaseous acid, the technique could be a potential candidate for pre-treatment considering the future production of cellulose nanomaterials, particularly cellulose nanocrystals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)312-318
Number of pages7
JournalReaction Chemistry & Engineering
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


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