, Volume 17, Issue 5, pp 891-901
Date: 06 Aug 2010

Diffusion-induced dimensional changes in papers and fibrillar films: influence of hydrophobicity and fibre-wall cross-linking

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Abstract

The initial dimensional stability of paper measured as hydroexpansion, i.e. when paper is exposed to liquid water, has been considerably improved by combining a periodate-oxidation-induced cross-linking of the fibre wall with the subsequent adsorption of a hydrophobic polyelectrolyte multilayer consisting of three layers of poly(allylamine hydrochloride) and two layers of poly(acrylic acid). This reduced the rate of diffusion of water into the fibre wall at the same time as the diffusion distance was increased, i.e. the water has to diffuse all the way from the top of the sheet and not only from the individual fibre surfaces since capillary absorption was prevented. However, as a consequence, the hydrophobic sheets present a greater expansion maximum before contraction. It is suggested that this may be due to a higher moisture content in the top fibre layers of the hydrophobically modified papers than in the hydrophilic sheets, since all the water is concentrated to the top fibre layers of the hydrophobic papers. Sheets made from bleached kraft pulp or thermo-mechanical pulp as well as model sheets made from microfibrillated cellulose (MFC) were studied. The MFC-sheets were intended as a model of the fibre wall, i.e. a sheet without any fibre joints. The behaviour of the MFC-sheets was similar to that of ordinary sheets when subjected to water, which indicates that the properties of the fibre joints do not affect the hydroexpansion to any great content and that the expansion of the paper is directly linked to the expansion of the fibre wall.