, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 835-848
Date: 18 May 2010

The effect of chemical composition on microfibrillar cellulose films from wood pulps: water interactions and physical properties for packaging applications

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Abstract

The interactions with water and the physical properties of microfibrillated celluloses (MFCs) and associated films generated from wood pulps of different yields (containing extractives, lignin, and hemicelluloses) have been investigated. MFCs were produced by combining mechanical refining and a high pressure treatment using a homogenizer. The produced MFCs were characterized by morphology analysis, water retention, hard-to-remove water content, and specific surface area. Regardless of chemical composition, processing to convert macrofibrils to microfibrils resulted in a decrease in water adsorption and water vapor transmission rate, both important properties for food packaging applications. After homogenization, MFCs with high lignin content had a higher water vapor transmission rate, even with a higher initial contact angle, hypothesized to be due to large hydrophobic pores in the film. A small amount of paraffin wax, less than 10%, reduced the WVTR to a similar value as low density polyethylene. Hard-to-remove water content correlated with specific surface area up to approximately 50 m2/g, but not with water retention value. The drying rate of the MFCs increased with the specific surface area. Hornified fibers from recycled paper also have the potential to be used as starting materials for MFC production as the physical and optical properties of the films were similar to the films from virgin fibers. In summary, the utilization of lignin containing MFCs resulted in unique properties and should reduce MFC production costs by reducing wood, chemical, and energy requirements.