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Investigation into electrospinning water-soluble xylan: developing applications from highly absorbent and hydrophilic surfaces to carbonized fiber

  • Jiufang Duan
  • Muzaffer A. Karaaslan
  • MiJung Cho
  • Li-Yang Liu
  • Amanda M. Johnson
  • Scott RenneckarEmail author
Original Paper


Heteropolysaccharides such as xylans are abundant renewable resources that could potentially replace some fossil-fuel derived chemicals and materials in packaging and personal care products. In this study, water-soluble xylan extracted from wheat straw was electrospun into nanofibers with a high molecular weight carrier polymer, polyethylene oxide (PEO). Bead-free uniform nanofibers with diameters ranging from 167 to 634 nm were produced with content of PEO as low as 4% of dry weight. The rheology of xylan/PEO aqueous solutions were studied and the effects of xylan-to-PEO ratio on the properties of fibers were correlated. Strong intermolecular interactions between xylan and PEO was found by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and differential scanning calorimetry as noted by shifts in vibrational absorbance bands and an increase in the Tg of PEO. In addition, an attempt was made to produce carbon material from xylan-based electrospun fiber mats. The effect of heat treatment in air and inert atmosphere on the hydrophilicity and mechanical properties of electrospun fibers was discussed in terms of making xylan into functional materials. The samples were transformed from being able to be rapidly redissolved in water into water-insoluble, yet hydrophilic materials, and finally to hydrophobic materials when comparing the as-spun fiber to air oxidized fiber and samples after carbonization, respectively.

Graphical abstract


Xylan Heteropolysaccharides Electrospinning Nanofiber Carbonization Heat treatment Dynamic mechanical analysis 



This research was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31600464); Canada Research Chairs program (Advanced Renewable Materials); NSERC Discovery; and the Paul and Edwina Heller Memorial Fund and the MRP Foundation.

Supplementary material

10570_2018_2188_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (883 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 883 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Materials Science and TechnologyBeijing Forestry UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.Department of Wood ScienceUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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