Chusquea quila, a Natural Resource from Chile: Its Chemical, Physical, and Nanomechanical Properties

Chusquea quila or 'quila', is one of the most abundant lesser-known species from Chile, and for many years it has created problems for farmers in the southern part of this country. In this study, it was examined as a promising resource for high-tech materials. The chemical and physical properties were determined by ASTM standards. The extractives, ash content, lignin, and alpha-cellulose were 4.55%, 2.17%, 13.78%, and 54.65%, respectively. The higher heating value and basic density obtained were 5,106 kcal/kg and 290 kg/m(3), respectively. The moisture content was studied during four seasons and found to be the highest in winter (73%). Regarding the nanomechanical profiles, hardness varied from 0.16 GPa in the cortex to 0.21 GPa in the nodule. The average elastic modulus in the nodule and internode was 12.5 GPa, while in the cortex it was 7.45 GPa. Considering the high cellulose content and structural features of the lignocellulosic matrix, it could be possible to extract cellulose fibers for commercial use and crude lignin for testing new applications. Thus, the entire quila structure is a potential biomass resource.

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