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Cellulose fibres, nanofibrils and microfibrils: The morphological sequence of MFC components from a plant physiology and fibre technology point of view

Gary Chinga-Carrasco

Author Affiliations

Paper and Fibre Research Institute (PFI AS), Høgskolerringen 6b, 7491 Trondheim, Norway

Nanoscale Research Letters 2011, 6:417  doi:10.1186/1556-276X-6-417

Published: 13 June 2011


During the last decade, major efforts have been made to develop adequate and commercially viable processes for disintegrating cellulose fibres into their structural components. Homogenisation of cellulose fibres has been one of the principal applied procedures. Homogenisation has produced materials which may be inhomogeneous, containing fibres, fibres fragments, fibrillar fines and nanofibrils. The material has been denominated microfibrillated cellulose (MFC). In addition, terms relating to the nano-scale have been given to the MFC material. Several modern and high-tech nano-applications have been envisaged for MFC. However, is MFC a nano-structure? It is concluded that MFC materials may be composed of (1) nanofibrils, (2) fibrillar fines, (3) fibre fragments and (4) fibres. This implies that MFC is not necessarily synonymous with nanofibrils, microfibrils or any other cellulose nano-structure. However, properly produced MFC materials contain nano-structures as a main component, i.e. nanofibrils.