Carboxymethylated cellulose nanofibrils in papermaking: influence on filler retention and paper properties
The papermaking industry competitiveness has been exponentially increasing. In order to improve the paper properties, processes have to be optimized in such a way that new horizons, such as the synthesis of new materials, are in sight. The present paper deals with the production of cellulose nanofibrils (CNF) from bleached Eucalyptus kraft pulp by carboxymethylation and TEMPO-mediated oxidation, followed by high pressure homogenisation. The main purpose of the work was to increase the filler retention and mechanical strength of printing and writing paper grades. Mineral fillers are of utmost importance in papermaking and therefore a thorough study of the CNF influence in filler-containing handsheets is mandatory. In this sense, flocculation studies revealed the extraordinary ability of CNF to flocculate calcium carbonate, which was translated into high filler retentions in the paper matrix. Moreover, the interactions between bleached pulp, CNF, mineral fillers and common paper additives, such as cationic starch, alkenyl succinic anhydride and cationic polyacrylamide, were investigated. The results allowed concluding that, depending on the materials applied, CNF are able to promote an adequate bonding between fibres and filler aggregates, reducing the requirements for the additives. The addition of carboxymethylated or TEMPO-oxidised CNF to the fibrous matrix led to handsheets with better structural, mechanical and optical properties than those of reference handsheets (without CNF and with additives).
KeywordsCellulose nanofibrils Carboxymethylation TEMPO-oxidation Papermaking Filler
Ana F. Lourenço would like to acknowledge Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT), Portugal, for PhD Grant SFRH/BDE/108095/2015.
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