Article

Cellulose

, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 467-480

First online:

Arabinoxylan structure affects the reinforcement of films by microfibrillated cellulose

  • Kirsi S. MikkonenAffiliated withDepartment of Food and Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki Email author 
  • , Leena PitkänenAffiliated withDepartment of Food and Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki
  • , Ville LiljeströmAffiliated withDepartment of Physics, University of Helsinki
  • , Elina Mabasa BergströmAffiliated withINNVENTIA AB, Fibre & Material Science
  • , Ritva SerimaaAffiliated withDepartment of Physics, University of Helsinki
  • , Lennart SalménAffiliated withINNVENTIA AB, Fibre & Material Science
  • , Maija TenkanenAffiliated withDepartment of Food and Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki

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Abstract

The chemical structure of rye arabinoxylan (rAX) was systematically modified, exploiting selective enzymes to mimic different naturally occurring xylans, i.e., its degree of substitution (DS) was decreased using α-l-arabinofuranosidase, and a controlled decrease in the degree of polymerization (DP) was performed using endo-1,4-β-d-xylanase. The arabinose to xylose ratio was decreased from 0.45 to 0.27 and the weight-average molar mass was decreased from 184,000 to 49,000 g/mol. The resulting samples were used to prepare films, as such, and with 15% (wt. − %) softwood-derived microfibrillated cellulose (MFC) to obtain novel plant-derived biocomposite materials. The enzymatic tailoring of rAX increased the crystallinity of films, evidenced by X-ray diffraction studies, and the addition of MFC to the debranched, low DS rAX induced the formation of ordered structures visible with polarizing optical microscopy. MFC decreased the moisture uptake of films and increased the relative humidity of softening of the films, detected with moisture scanning dynamic mechanical analysis. For the first time, the chemical structure of xylan was proven to significantly affect the reinforcement potential of nano-sized cellulose, as the tensile strength of films from high DP rAXs, but not that of low DP rAXs, clearly increased with the addition of MFC. At the same time, MFC only increased the Young’s modulus of films from rAX with high arabinose content, regardless of DP.

Keywords

Arabinosidase Arabinoxylan Composites Films Microfibrillated cellulose Xylanase