, Volume 12, Issue 6, pp 563-576
Date: 20 Aug 2005

On the determination of crystallinity and cellulose content in plant fibres

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A comparative study of cellulose crystallinity based on the sample crystallinity and the cellulose content in plant fibres was performed for samples of different origin. Strong acid hydrolysis was found superior to agricultural fibre analysis and comprehensive plant fibre analysis for a consistent determination of the cellulose content. Crystallinity determinations were based on X-ray powder diffraction methods using side-loaded samples in reflection (Bragg-Brentano) mode. Rietveld refinements based on the recently published crystal structure of cellulose Iβ followed by integration of the crystalline and amorphous (background) parts were performed. This was shown to be straightforward to use and in many ways advantageous to traditional crystallinity determinations using the Segal or the Ruland–Vonk methods. The determined cellulose crystallinities were 90–100 g/100 g cellulose in plant-based fibres and 60–70 g/100 g cellulose in wood based fibres. These findings are significant in relation to strong fibre composites and bio-ethanol production.