This work is recently published in Frontiers in Chemistry.
Cellulose Nanocrystals (CNC) are explored to stabilize oil/water emulsions for their ability to adsorb at the oil/water interface. In this work, the role of electrostatic forces in the CNC ability to stabilize oil/water emulsions is explored using canola oil/water and hexadecane/water as model systems. Canola oil/water and Hexadecane/ water (20/80, v/v) emulsions were stabilized with the addition of CNCs using ultrasonication. Emulsion droplet sizes range from 1 to 4 μm as measured by optical microscopy. It is found that CNC can stabilize oil/water emulsions regardless of their charge density. However, reducing the surface charge density, by adding salts and varying pH, can reduce the amount of CNC’s required to form a stable emulsion. Just by adding 3 mM Na+ or 1 mM or less Ca+2 to a CNC suspension, the amount of CNC reduced by 30% to stabilized 2 mL of Canola oil. On the other hand, adding salt increases the emulsion volume. The addition of 100 mM Na+ or the reduction of pH below 2 leads to the aggregation of CNC; emulsions formed under these conditions showed gel-like behavior. This work shows the potential of nanocellulose crystal in stabilizing food and industrial emulsions. This is of interest for applications where biodegradability, biocompatibility, and food grade requirements are needed.
Authors: Swambabu Varanasi, Leeav Henzel, Llyza Mendoza, Ragesh Prathapan, Warren Batchelor, Rico Tabor and Gil Garnier.