R. Nolles, F. Staps
Cosun Biobased Products,
Keywords: microcellulosic fibers, sugar beet, structuring of liquids, yield point, particle carrying properties, biorefining
Summary:Introduction: biorefining at Royal Cosun Royal Cosun is committed to the biobased economy. We feel that biorefining is the way forward and therefore Royal Cosun decided to invest in an integrated and cost-effective cascading biorefinery to refine sugar beet pulp and isolate high value components for use in a great variety of end products including detergents, paints, coatings and composites but also for applications in the personal care, oil and gas industry. Our overall objective is to establish the value chains based on microcellulosic fibers, arabinose and galacturonic acid (approximately 65% of the mass of sugar beet pulp) in high value markets. Microcellulosic fibers from sugar beet pulp The microcellulosic fiber obtained from the abovementioned biorefinery is a particulate cellulose material containing at least 60% cellulose, 0.5-10% pectin and 1-15% hemicellulose, and has typical particle dimension within the range of 25-75 µm. This parenchymal cellulose based material, which comprise cell wall derived networks of cellulose based fibers and nanofibrils, can advantageously be used to structure liquids and for stabilization of suspended solid particles or gas bubbles in liquid compositions. The microcellulosic fibers are derived from renewable vegetable resources that do not compete with the food chain. Moreover, it is a 100% natural biopolymer that has not been chemically modified and is completely biodegradable. The unique properties of microcellulosic fibers In an aqueous environment the microcellulosic fibers form a particle gel and create a physical 3D network that shows superior particle carrying properties. This physical network tends to be stronger than the chemical network that is typically being built by nano-fibers. Hence, the yield point of microcellulosic fibers exceeds the yield point of well-known structurants or viscosifiers like CMC, xanthan gum and guar gum. More importantly, the properties of the network build with the fibers are maintained under a broad pH range and at high temperature levels. The properties are also virtually unaffected by electrolytes that are known to disrupt chemical networks. Introduced in liquid compositions the microcellulosic fibers deliver high zero shear viscosity and a strong shear thinning behavior of the gel formed. Applications for microcellulosic fibers The microcellulosic fibers are suitable to use in a wide range of applications, for instance to structure liquid detergents and cleaners, personal care products, oil drilling fluids, cement, paints & coatings and even food products. In oil drilling fluids for example microcellulosic fibers will assist to build viscosity as well as aid to remove cuttings from the bore hole. In paints and coatings the strong shear thinning behavior allows easy application of the paint, but the high zero shear viscosity prevents sagging. In cement microcellulosic fibers have the capability to suspend aggregates, preventing stratification. This potentially will positively affect the strength and flexibility of concrete.