Fine Cellulosic Materials Produced from Chemical Pulp: the Combined Effect of Morphology and Rate of Addition on Paper Properties

Julie Bossu, René Eckhart, Chiara Czibula, Armin Winter, Armin Zankel, Wolfgang Gindl-Altmutter, Wolfgang Bauer

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Among bio-based reinforcement additives for paper existing on the market, microfibrillated cellulose (MFC) turned out to be a promising material, showing outstanding potential in composites science. Its relevance in papermaking as a new family of paper components was suggested more recently. There remains a number of constraints limiting the promotion of their use in papermaking, mostly related to their high cost and effect on dewatering resistance. Also, contrasting results reported in the literature suggest that the effect of fibrillation rate and quantity of such cellulosic additives in a furnish on the technological paper properties needs further research. The purpose of this study is to produce and characterize different MFC-like fine fibrous materials of varying particle size and degree of fibrillation from the same batch of pulp through mechanical treatment or fractionation. The effect of the thus obtained fine fibrous materials on paper properties is evaluated with respect to their concentration within a fiber furnish. We compared: (i) a mixture of primary and secondary fines isolated from the pulp by means of a purpose-built laboratory pressure screen; (ii) MFC-like fine fibrous materials of increasingly fibrillar character obtained by refining and subsequent steps of high-pressure homogenization. The morphology of the different materials was first characterized using flow cell based and microscopic techniques. The thus obtained materials were then applied in handsheet forming in blends of different proportions to evaluate their influence on paper properties. The results of these experiments indicate that all these products lead to a substantial decrease in air permeability and to improved mechanical properties already at low concentration, independent of the type and morphological character of the added fine cellulosic material. At higher addition rates, only highly fibrillated materials allowed a further considerable increase in tensile and z-strength. These observations should help to allow a more targeted application of this new generation of materials in papermaking, depending on the desired application.
Original languageEnglish
Article number321
Number of pages17
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019


  • papermaking
  • microfibrillated cellulose
  • fines
  • morphology
  • paper strength
  • fiber network

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