, Volume 25, Issue 8, pp 4437–4451 | Cite as

Strong cationic polyelectrolyte adsorption on a water swollen cellulosic biomaterial and its relevance on microstructure and rheological properties

  • Joel WallecanEmail author
  • Stephane J. J. Debon
Original Paper


A multiscale approach was taken to study the swelling and viscosifying properties of a cellulose-rich biomaterial as a function of environmental conditions. First, the impact of pH and ionic strength on the surface properties of the fiber was investigated by means of potentiometry and cationic polyelectrolyte adsorption. Three adsorption regimes were identified: the first one occurred in acidic conditions and was related to the ionization of the carboxylic groups of pectin. A very sharp adsorption was then observed in the mild-acidic to neutral region which was most likely related to a conformation change in the plant cell wall architecture. The third adsorption regime happened in the alkaline region and was related to ionization effects. Based on this information, the impact of environmental conditions on the hydrated microstructure was studied in DSC by means of thermoporosimetry. It clearly demonstrated a structural collapse of the hydrated fiber when pH decreased or the amounts of ions increased. This phenomenon was in line with the surface charge measurements. Finally, the link between the wet microstructure and the macroscale behavior of the fiber was demonstrated by studying the flow properties of the reconstituted fiber, below and above its percolation threshold. In line with the surface properties and microstructure data, yield stresses increased when the pH was adjusted from acidic to alkaline conditions. Salt addition resulted in a loss of the texturizing properties.

Graphical Abstract


Electrokinetic adsorption Thermoporosimetry Cationic polyelectrolyte Rheology 



Differential scanning calorimetry




Polydimethyl diallyl ammonium chloride


Poly(sodium ethene sulfonate)


Degree of esterification


Galacturonic acid





We thank the Cargill Texturizing Systems and Cargill Ingredient, Material & Nutrition R&D organisation for their support and in particular Jacques Mazoyer, Geert Maesmans and Didier Bonnet. The authors would like to thank one of the reviewers for his thorough and very constructive contribution on the hypothesis presented in this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cargill R&D Centre EuropeVilvoordeBelgium

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