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Eco-Friendly Cellulose Nanofibers can help in controlled release of pesticides

Tooba Maher
Tooba Maher

Scientists at Pune-based National Chemical Laboratory (NCL) of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) have developed an environment-friendly controlled release formulation system for applying agrochemicals in agricultural fields. 

How did the system develop? 

The system has been developed by blending sugarcane bagasse with gelatinized maize starch and urea formaldehyde to form nanocomposite granules.  As a model system, the researchers have encapsuled Dimethyl phthalate (DMP), an insect repellent and ecto-parasiticide, within the granules. 

Various natural polymers like starch, gelatin, natural rubber, and synthetic polymers such as polyurea, polyurethane, poly vinyl alcohol, and epoxy resins are employed to prepare these systems.  

How it will be Beneficial? 

It is Environment-friendly. Over the years, overuse of pesticides is posing a major hazard to human health and environment.  In recent times, a solution has been found in the form of controlled release formulation systems. Such systems help prolong the release of the pesticide over a desired time period and help to reach the target sites in a focused manner. This enhances crop yield and reduces environmental pollution. 

The growing problem of micro-plastic pollution has made it necessary to focus more on producing controlled release systems based on biodegradable microcapsules from sustainable feed stocks. 

Material and Method

The cassava bagasse used as raw material was obtained from tapioca industry in Purbalingga, Indonesia.  

Potassium hydroxide was used for alkaline treatment. Sodium chlorite and acetic acid were used as bleaching agents, while sulphuric acid was used for hydrolysis. All chemicals purchased from Merck.  


Cassava bagasse (CB) was purified by a series of chemical treatments and then subjected to a mechanical treatment to produce cellulose nanofibers (CN). 

Research Team Members

Besides the Research Team Leader Kadhiravan Shanmuganathan, other member of the team includes Mayur Patil, Vishal Patil, Aditya Sapre, Tushar S. Ambone, Arun Torris AT and Parshuram Shukla.  

The study has been published in journal ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering. According to Shanmuganathan when the granules were applied in the field, the starch in them absorbs water, swells and releases the pesticide at a controlled rate. Addition of cellulose nanofibres from bagasse enhanced the efficiency of the system. 

He further added, “The system with cellulose nanofibers, releases DMP slowly in the beginning and releases 90% of DMP, as more water is absorbed due to its hydrophilic nature. Cellulose nanofibres also control the pore size of starch granules and hence DMP release. 

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