A highly controllable and scalable process for fabrication of large amounts of concentrated lignin nanoparticles (LNPs) is reported. These lignin core nanoparticles are formed through flash nanoprecipitation, however, scaling up of the fabrication process requires fundamental understanding of their operational formation mechanism and surface properties. It is shown how a semicontinuous synthesis system with a recirculation loop makes it possible to produce flash precipitated lignin nanoparticles in large amounts for practical applications. The roles of the process parameters, including flow rates and lignin concentration, are investigated and analyzed. The results indicate that the LNPs are formed by a process of continuous burst nucleation at the point of mixing without diffusive growth, which yields nanoparticles of highly uniform size following a modified LaMer nucleation and growth mechanism. This mechanism makes possible facile process control and scale-up. Effective control of the resulting nanoparticle size is achieved through the initial concentration of lignin in the injected solution. The impressive capability to produce suspensions of any predesigned multimodal distribution is demonstrated. The resulting nanofabrication technique can produce large volumes of concentrated LNP suspensions of high stability and tightly controlled size distributions for biological or agricultural applications.
- benign nanomaterials
- flash nanoprecipitation
- monodisperse lignin nanoparticles