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Module Abstract

This module presents the nanotechnologies, processes, and methods being developed to produce strong and stiff cellulose nanofibers. The module is designed to take the student through processing a material (called feed stock or substrate) to break down and extract cellulose fibrils. A pulp is created from recycled newspaper, a special enzyme is added, and then the substance is processed further by spinning, screening, and curing, to produce a cellulose nanofiber paper with varying fiber orientations and changes in properties such as rigidity and stiffness. Hands-on activities include processing and creating cellulose nanofiber paper and observing samples for changes in rigidity and /stiffness.

Module Resources and Documents
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Nanocellulose Slides

List of Required Materials

The full list of items needed for this module is below.  Note that materials for DIY modules are not available through Nano-Link or the Nano-Infusion program.

Per person/team: 

  • Newspaper  
  • 5 gal bucket  
  • Screened frame, 6” x 6” minimum 
  • Unframed screen (same size as screen frame) 
  • Pan, must be larger than the screened frame and deep enough to submerge the screen 
  • Fibrillation medium/agent (enzyme): Alpha amylase  
  • Water
  • Blender  
  • Digital scale, tabletop type such as a kitchen/food scale 
  • Sponges 
  • Test tubes 
  • Pipettes
  • Paper towels or other absorbent material to lay sample on to dry 
  • Latex gloves and safety glasses, aprons optional 

Additional supplies if monitoring pH or temperature: 

  • pH meter, or 
  • pH test strips, available from pool supply stores. (Lignin-degrading enzymes generally function best under slightly acidic or neutral pH, but the most common pulping reactions and recycled fiber processes are alkaline.) 
  • Thermometer – the type used in cooking (ideal temperature is room temp).