What is it about?

We developed a novel heterogeneous TEMPO catalyst (Fe@MagTEMPO) wherein, TEMPO was attached chemically to magnetic nanoparticles and used to oxidize cellulose pulp and synthesize nanocellulose. The oxidation was carried out using water as the medium. At the end of the oxidation, TEMPO was recycled and sodium chloride (common salt) was only produced as residue.

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Why is it important?

Traditionally, nanocellulose is synthesized by oxidation of cellulose pulp from pulp and paper mills and then mechanical disintegration of oxidized pulp. A catalyst called ‘TEMPO’ is utilised for efficient oxidation of pulp. However, TEMPO is a costly chemical and is also toxic to aquatic life. Hence, it should not be released into waste effluent after oxidation, as it can accumulate in the environment. This issue creates a need to recycle TEMPO in order for this process to be a green and cost effective technology to create value added nanocellulose. Our technology to produce nanocellulose involves renewable starting material, has low energy requirement, and generates no toxic residues. As the TEMPO catalyst can be recycled, process becomes cost effective with each cycle of operation.


This technology is the first report on use of solid catalyst to oxidize solid substrate like cellulose.

Saurabh Patankar
University of British Columbia

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This page is a summary of: Greener synthesis of nanofibrillated cellulose using magnetically separable TEMPO nanocatalyst, Green Chemistry, January 2017, Royal Society of Chemistry, DOI: 10.1039/c7gc02383a.
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