Diepoxide treatment of softwood kraft pulp: influence on absorption properties of fibre networks
Journal article, 2011
Many different approaches to the introduction of intra-fibre cross-links in fibres for use in absorption products are described in the patent literature, but relatively little has been done in terms of academic research. In this study, the long fibre fraction of a Scandinavian softwood kraft pulp has been cross-linked with the diepoxide 1,4-butanediol diglycidyl ether (BDDE). The fibre properties and the performance of the pulp in low density fibre networks were analyzed. In experiments, the cross-linking agent (BDDE) was dissolved in acetone and then mixed with the pulp. It was shown that a prior wash with NaOH (0.1 M) activates the polysaccharides and increases the extent of cross-linking, detected as a decrease in the water retention value. Chemical analysis of modified fibres also gave a clear indication of that cross-linking reactions actually occurred. The pulp properties could furthermore be influenced by varying time, temperature and the amount of BDDE in the reaction. It was also shown that it is possible to use water as a solvent for the cross-linking agent, even though the reactivity of water towards diepoxide must be considered to be high. The cross-linked pulps showed wet bulk under load comparable to that of the mechanical pulps and enhanced properties than unmodified Scandinavian softwood kraft pulp. It was also observed that fibre network test pads of the cross-linked pulp fibres, after being tested in the wet state, regained a substantially large part of their low-density structure when air-dried.