EFFECT OF MECHANICAL TREATMENT ON PROPERTIES OF CELLULOSE NANOFIBRILS PRODUCED FROM BLEACHED HARDWOOD AND SOFTWOOD PULPS

P. Lekha, A. Mtibe, T.E. Motaung, J.E. Andrew, B.B. Sitholè, M. Gibril

Abstract


Bleached hardwood and softwood South African kraft pulps were passed through a commercially available micro grinder for varying number of passes and the properties of the resultant pulps were assessed periodically using microscopy, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), X-ray crystallography (XRD) and Thermogravimetric analysis (TGA). The ultrastructural analysis of the pulp fibres revealed that after 120 passes both hardwood and softwood bleached fibres showed the presence of cellulose nanofibres (CNFs). The FTIR analysis showed no modification to the cellulose structure and side groups upon treatment with the supermasscolloider (SMC). Both hardwood and softwood pulp fibres showed a decline in crystallinity after SMC treatment. For the hardwood pulps there were no major differences between the untreated pulps and those passed through the SMC. In the case of the softwood pulps, the SMC treatment resulted in more thermally stable CNFs compared with the untreated bleached pulps. This was observed at several levels of treatment (40, 120 and 200 passes). After 200 passes both the hardwood and softwood kraft pulp fibres produced CNFs with an average width of 11 nm and lengths with several micrometers.

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