With a goal of identifying a new scalable source for cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs), we successfully isolated CNCs from a sustainable, non-invasive grass, Miscanthus x. Giganteus (MxG). Subjecting MxG stalks to base hydrolysis, bleaching and acid hydrolysis allowed access to cellulose nanocrystals (MxG-CNC) in high yields. X-ray diffraction studies showed the crystallinity of the MxG-CNCs increased with subsequent treatment conditions (>90% after HCl hydrolysis). Transmission electron microscopy showed that the MxG-CNC exhibit relatively high aspect ratios (60–70), and small angle neutron scattering showed the crystals were ribbon-like with a width and thickness of 8.5 and 2.8 nm respectively. As expected, thermomechanical analysis of nanocomposites fabricated with carboxylic acid functionalized MxG-CNC (MxG-CNC-COOH) and PVAc showed an increase in modulus (above Tg) as filler content was increased. Comparing the properties to PVAc nanocomposites containing CNCs from wood showed at least as good, if not slightly better, reinforcement at the same loading level.
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