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On the dissolution state of cellulose in cold alkali solutions

Hagman, Joel; Gentile, Luigi; Jessen, Christian Moestrup; Behrens, Manja; Bergqvist, Karl-Erik; Olsson, Ulf

By 12 March 2019No Comments

Cellulose, 2017, vol 24, 5, pp. 2003-2015



We have characterized the dissolved state of microcrystalline cellulose (MCC) in cold alkali [2.0 M NaOH(aq)] solutions using a combination of small angle X-ray (SAXS) and static light scattering (SLS), 11^1H NMR, NMR self-diffusion, and rheology experiments. NMR and SAXS data demonstrate that the cellulose is fully molecularly dissolved. SLS, however, shows the presence of large concentration fluctuations in the solution, consistent with significant attractive cellulose-cellulose interactions. The scattering data are consistent with fractal cellulose aggregates of micrometre size having a mass fractal dimension D∼1.5D∼1.5Dsim 1.5. At 25∘C∘C,^{circ }mathrm {C} the solution structure remains unchanged on the time scale of weeks. However, upon heating the solutions above 35∘C∘C,^{circ }mathrm {C} additional aggregation occurs on the time scale of minutes. Decreasing or increasing the NaOH concentration away from the “optimum” 2 M also leads to additional aggregation. This is seen as an increase of the SAXS intensity at lower q values. Addition of urea (1.8 and 3.6 M, respectively) does not significantly influence the solution structure. With these examples, we will discuss how scattering methods can be used to assess the quality of solvents for cellulose.

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