Editorial Feature

The Applications of Crystalline Nanocellulose (CNC)

GiroScience / Shutterstock

Cellulose is the main building block of trees and plants. It is considered as the most abundantly found natural linear biopolymer possessing exceptional mechanical properties. Nanocellulose from plants or bacteria has excellent physical, mechanical, and optical properties.

Crystalline nanocellulose has more promising characteristics than original cellulosic fibers. The cellulose fibers can be converted into cellulose nanofibers (CNF) or crystalline nanocellulose (CNC) after mechanical or chemical treatments.

As a novel sustainable nanomaterial, CNC has wide ranging applications, some of which are discussed below.

Body Armor

CNC is organized as a tightly packed array of needle-like crystals. These crystal structures are extremely tough and their strength is nearly eight times higher than stainless steel. Thus, this material is utilized for the production of body armor, e.g. Kevlar.  


The rapidly evolving electronics industry and its ever-growing needs require constant innovation. In the recent past, the demand for sustainable energy devices such as lithium ion batteries, supercapacitors, and solar cells has increased rapidly.

Some of the important parts inside a battery are made up of stiff materials which cannot be molded. CNC combined with graphene material makes the production of a flexible battery possible in the electronic industry.


CNF can be used to filter and purify liquids such as saltwater to produce drinkable water, filtering out blood cells during transfusion, and filtering dangerous chemicals in cigarettes.

Absorbent Aerogels

When CNC is mixed with the aerogel foam, a highly porous material with adsorbent characteristics is obtained which are used to make strong and light wound dressing gauzes and tampons.

Fuel Efficient Cars

When heavy parts of the car are replaced with light components reinforced with nanocellulose, the weight of the car decreases significantly and therefore the fuel consumption of the cars is greatly reduced.

Biodegradable Polyester Nanocomposites Prepared by in situ Polymerization

The addition of small amounts of CNC results in a slight decrease in viscosity, indicative of a reduction in the molecular weight of the polymer which is attributed to altered polymerization kinetics.

CNC is a very efficient nucleating agent for biodegradable aliphatic polyesters.


Biofuel can be produced from the microalgae present in waste-water with the help of CO2 switchable CNC modified with 1-(3-aminopropyl) imidazole (APIm).


Paper coated with CNC not only increases the surface gloss but also improves the mechanical and printable quality of the coated papers.


The addition of CNC into a pressure-sensitive adhesive results in a significant increase in the overlap shear properties of the adhesive while maintaining the peel adhesion.

A very small amount, i.e., 0.5-15 percent weight of CNC, relative to the weight of the adhesive (meth)acrylate copolymer, is required for the increase in shear properties with the acrylic pressure-sensitive adhesives.


CNC is known to be a stronger material than steel. The addition of CNC improves the formation of calcium-silicate-hydrate (CSH) gel in the cement matrix.

The formation of CSH gel in cement mortar enhances the strength of the cement composites by up to 42-45% compared to conventional cement mortar.  

Plastics and Composites

CNC is applied in different concentrations to a wide range of polymer matrices in the production of rubbers, thermoplastics, thermosets, and biodegradable polymers amongst others.

The preparation of each type of polymer composite has unique challenges for obtaining the desired properties and good dispersions of nanocellulose in the polymer matrices.  

Paints and Coatings

The addition of CNC to coatings not only increases mechanical properties but also increases color stability.

CNC in UV water-based coatings results in an approximately 30– 40% increase in wear resistance, i.e., against abrasions and scratches, without any loss of its visual appeal.  

Health Care

CNC is used in therapeutics. It can increase porosity, degradability, and drug release ability. It can also alter the properties of tissue scaffolds through its chemical properties and increase cell viability.  

Other uses of CNC

CNC is used in optical sensors, the food industry, and the packaging industry.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the author expressed in their private capacity and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited T/A AZoNetwork the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and conditions of use of this website.

Dr. Priyom Bose

Written by

Dr. Priyom Bose

Priyom holds a Ph.D. in Plant Biology and Biotechnology from the University of Madras, India. She is an active researcher and an experienced science writer. Priyom has also co-authored several original research articles that have been published in reputed peer-reviewed journals. She is also an avid reader and an amateur photographer.


Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

  • APA

    Bose, Priyom. (2019, November 06). The Applications of Crystalline Nanocellulose (CNC). AZoNano. Retrieved on July 20, 2024 from https://www.azonano.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=5328.

  • MLA

    Bose, Priyom. "The Applications of Crystalline Nanocellulose (CNC)". AZoNano. 20 July 2024. <https://www.azonano.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=5328>.

  • Chicago

    Bose, Priyom. "The Applications of Crystalline Nanocellulose (CNC)". AZoNano. https://www.azonano.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=5328. (accessed July 20, 2024).

  • Harvard

    Bose, Priyom. 2019. The Applications of Crystalline Nanocellulose (CNC). AZoNano, viewed 20 July 2024, https://www.azonano.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=5328.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you have a review, update or anything you would like to add to this article?

Leave your feedback
Your comment type

While we only use edited and approved content for Azthena answers, it may on occasions provide incorrect responses. Please confirm any data provided with the related suppliers or authors. We do not provide medical advice, if you search for medical information you must always consult a medical professional before acting on any information provided.

Your questions, but not your email details will be shared with OpenAI and retained for 30 days in accordance with their privacy principles.

Please do not ask questions that use sensitive or confidential information.

Read the full Terms & Conditions.