, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 323–333 | Cite as

Highly ductile fibres and sheets by core-shell structuring of the cellulose nanofibrils

  • Per A. LarssonEmail author
  • Lars A. Berglund
  • Lars Wågberg
Original Paper


A greater ductility of cellulosic materials is important if they are to be used in increasingly advanced applications. This study explores the potential for using chemical core-shell structuring on the nanofibril level to alter the mechanical properties of cellulose fibres and sheets made thereof. The structuring was achieved by a selective oxidation of the cellulose C2–C3 bonds with sodium periodate, followed by a reduction of the aldehydes formed with sodium borohydride, i.e. locally transforming cellulose to dialcohol cellulose. The resulting fibres were morphologically characterised and the sheets made of these modified fibres were mechanically tested. These analyses showed a minor decrease in the degree of polymerisation, a significantly reduced cellulose crystal width and a greater ductility. At 27 % conversion of the available C2–C3 bonds, sheets could be strained 11 %, having a stress at break of about 90 MPa, and consequently a remarkable tensile energy absorption at rupture of about 9 kJ/kg, i.e. 3–4 times higher than a strong conventional paper. Zero-span tensile measurements indicated that the treatment increased the ductility not only of sheets but also of individual fibres. This suggests that the amorphous and molecularly more mobile dialcohol cellulose is located as a shell surrounding the crystalline core of the cellulose fibrils, and that, at deformations beyond the yield point, this facilitates plastic deformation both within and between individual fibres.


Borohydride reduction Dialcohol cellulose Ductile paper Energy absorption Periodate oxidation Strain at break Core-shell structure 



The financial support from the Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems (VINNOVA), through the excellence centre BiMaC Innovation at KTH, is respectfully acknowledged. Mr Philip Lindh is acknowledged for skilful laboratory assistance and SCA R&D Centre AB, Sundsvall, Sweden is acknowledged for performing the zero-span measurements.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Per A. Larsson
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Lars A. Berglund
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Lars Wågberg
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Fibre and Polymer TechnologyKTH Royal Institute of TechnologyStockholmSweden
  2. 2.BiMaC InnovationKTH Royal Institute of TechnologyStockholmSweden
  3. 3.Wallenberg Wood Science CenterKTH Royal Institute of TechnologyStockholmSweden

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