Tailoring the Structure and Morphology of Low-Molecular-Weight Cellulose Produced during Supercritical Water Hydrolysis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Research units

  • University of Valladolid
  • University of Helsinki


This paper discusses the influence of reactor design and initial consistency when partially hydrolyzing microcrystalline cellulose (MCC) in supercritical water. Experiments conducted on two pilot reactors located in Finland and in Spain showed that stopping the reaction using depressurization instead of quenching, combined with a sufficiently high MCC consistency, led to significant change in reaction kinetics. A complete particle size reduction was achieved after 50 ms only due to additional shear-induced degradation, with a low-molecular-weight product yield above 50 wt % and an average DP of 25. In addition, gradually increasing the MCC consistency triggered precipitation under higher apparent temperature, which affected both the morphology and structure of the product. A range of particles from ribbon-like cellulose II to shish-kebab structures to lamellar cellulose IVII crystals was obtained. Furthermore, heat requirements as low as 66 kJ·g-1 of product confirm the high potential and versatility of this process for refining MCC into colloidal low-molecular-weight cellulose with different particle shapes and structural properties.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16959–16967
JournalACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

    Research areas

  • Carbohydrates, Cellulose, Hydrolysis, Hydrothermal treatment, Supercritical water, Water chemistry

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