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Shuping Dong successfully defends master's thesis

March 14, 2014 – By Maren Roman

On Thursday, April 24, Shuping Dong, a graduate student under the guidance of Prof. Maren Roman, successfully defended her master’s thesis and earned an M.S. in Macromolecular Science and Engineering. Shuping’s master’s research investigated the effects of the hydrolysis conditions on the yield and properties of cellulose nanocrystals produced by sulfuric acid hydrolysis. Using a statistical approach to optimize the hydrolysis conditions for maximum yield, she completed two experimental designs, a central composite design and a Box-Behnken design, and analyzed the data with response surface methodology. The experimental parameters in her study were the sulfuric acid concentration, the hydrolysis temperature, and the hydrolysis time. Her research showed that cellulose nanocrystal yields of close to 70% are possible, far exceeding the yields of 10-20%, obtained with commonly used hydrolysis conditions. Her research also showed that the negative surface charge of cellulose nanocrystals prepared by sulfuric acid hydrolysis depends linearly on the sulfuric acid concentration and, to a lesser extent, hydrolysis temperature but is independent of hydrolysis time for hydrolysis times exceeding 30 min. Shuping’s statistical models enable scientists to predict the yield and cellulose nanocrystal properties for a given set of hydrolysis conditions or, alternatively, determine the hydrolysis conditions for a desired combination of yield and particle properties.


Graph showing the Box-Behnken cellulose nanocrystal yield Graph showing the Box-Behnken cellulose nanocrystal yield response surface for acid concentration and hydrolysis temperature

Shuping is planning to publish her master’s thesis this summer in the form of two journal publications. In addition to her master’s project, Shuping has completed research on the potential use of cellulose nanocrystals for targeted drug delivery applications and has published three first-author publications on this project, with two more publications in preparation. Her first paper, which was published in the prestigious Journal of the American Chemical Society, has already been cited 86 times.



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