, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 1725–1746 | Cite as

Chemically modified cellulose nanocrystals as polyanion for preparation of polyelectrolyte complex

  • Niédja Fittipaldi Vasconcelos
  • Judith Pessoa Andrade Feitosa
  • Fábia Karine Andrade
  • Marcus Aurélio Ribeiro Miranda
  • José Marcos Sasaki
  • João Paulo Saraiva Morais
  • Lorena Mara Alexandre e Silva
  • Kirley Marques Canuto
  • Morsyleide de Freitas RosaEmail author
Original Research


Bacterial cellulose nanocrystals (BCNCs) have hydrophilic surfaces due to hydroxyl groups but are water-insoluble. The carboxymethylation improves the solubility of cellulose in polar media through the insertion of carboxymethyl groups. This study aims to evaluate the use of two different alcoholic solvents in the carboxymethylation reaction of BCNCs: ethanol and isopropanol. BCNCs were obtained under two hydrolysis conditions: sulfuric acid (BCNC-S) and combination of sulfuric and hydrochloric acids (BCNC-S/Cl). Two techniques (NMR and titration) were used to determine the degree of substitution (DS) values. Carboxymethylation of BCNC-S/Cl led to high DS compared to BCNC-S and the use of isopropanol promoted an even greater DS. The thermal properties were not affected after the chemical modification. However, functionalization provided an increase in the negative charge density at the surface of nanostructures and a change in the crystal structure (cellulose type Iα for amorphous), making this material a potential polyanion for the synthesis of polyelectrolyte complexes (PECs). The micrographs showed that the nanocrystals became soluble after carboxymethylation. Carboxymethylated bacterial cellulose nanocrystals hydrolyzed through the mixture of inorganic acids and modified using isopropanol (CBCNC-S/Cl-IPA) was a suitable polyanion to produce PECs with chitosan. The PECs produced had particle size ranging from 276 to 588 nm and zeta potential ranging from − 24.3 to + 39.0 mV.

Graphical abstract


Bacterial cellulose Hydrolysis Nanocrystals Carboxymethylation Chitosan Polyelectrolytic complexes 



The authors wish to acknowledge the financial support provided by the Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES, Brazil), the National Council of Technological and Scientific Development (CNPq, Brazil), the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT, Portugal), the Institute for Biotechnology and Bioengineering (IBB, University of Minho, Portugal), Instituto Nacional de Ciência e Tecnologia em Materiais Complexos Funcionais (INOMAT, Brazil), and the Embrapa Agroindústria Tropical. This research was also supported by the international collaboration program FCT/CAPES (No. 99999.008530/2014-09). The authors would like to thank the Fundação Oswaldo Cruz (FIOCRUZ – Instituto Aggeu Magalhães) and the Laboratório de Raios-X (LRX – UFC) for supporting the analysis of TEM and XRD, respectively.

Supplementary material

10570_2018_2223_MOESM1_ESM.docx (2.6 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 2668 kb)


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ChemistryFederal University of Ceará (UFC)FortalezaBrazil
  2. 2.Department of Chemical EngineeringFederal University of Ceará (UFC)FortalezaBrazil
  3. 3.Department of PhysicsFederal University of Ceará (UFC)FortalezaBrazil
  4. 4.Embrapa Algodão – CNPACampina GrandeBrazil
  5. 5.Embrapa Agroindústria Tropical – CNPATFortalezaBrazil

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