(WSPA) – Across Clemson University’s campus, the work of Associate Professor of Chemistry Daniel Whitehead is focused on a plant-based solution for a different problem.  

Whitehead’s team is creating nanocrystals capable of eliminating odors and filtering polluted air and water, and it all comes from a crop that is abundant in South Carolina.

“So, we take cotton, and we use that as our platform to extract the crystalline portions of cellulose,” Whitehead said. “Additionally, then after they (nanocrystals) are used they are completely biodegradable because they are made from cellulose.”

As exciting as the technology is, both lab researchers acknowledge the vast majority of lab inventions never make it to market.  

To add to the challenge, these products not only have to be affordable but able to be produced on a mass scale.

Whitehead has also published several papers on his research over the last decade.

Cellulose particles capture aldehyde VOC pollutants†

Controllable Design of Naked and Poly(Amine)-Capped Porous and Nonporous Microparticles of Sustainable Polymers That Exhibit Dual Modalities for Volatile Organic Compound Adsorption

Periodic mesoporous organosilica nanomaterials for rapid capture of VOCs†

Poly(amine) modified kaolinite clay for VOC capture

Rapid Removal of Poly- and Perfluorinated Alkyl Substances by Poly(ethylenimine)-Functionalized Cellulose Microcrystals at Environmentally Relevant Conditions

Removal of metals and inorganics from rendered fat using polyamine-modified cellulose nanocrystals

Scaled Synthesis of Polyamine-Modified Cellulose Nanocrystals from Bulk Cotton and Their Use for Capturing Volatile Organic Compounds

Target-Specific Capture of Environmentally Relevant Gaseous Aldehydes and Carboxylic Acids with Functional Nanoparticles

Tunable Properties of Functional Nanoparticles for Efficient Capture of VOCs