Localization of cellulosic fines in paper via fluorescent labeling

Mathias Hobisch, Julie Bossu, Daniel Mandlez, Sylvia Bardet, Stefan Spirk, Rene Eckhart, Wolfgang Bauer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Generated in the pulp and paper production process, cellulosic pulp fines are fibrous cellulosic materials capable of passing a 200 mesh screen. Processed pulp fines remain in the pulp and affect pulp and paper sheet properties. Their specific morphology promotes interactions with fibers and alters sheet properties. Nevertheless, the 3D distribution of fines in paper sheets has not been revealed so far. Localizing fines within a matrix of fibers is challenging since both elements have the same chemical composition and fines have small dimensions. It is required to increase the contrast of pulp fines, while avoiding any alteration of initial fines morphology. In this study, fines were first separated and labeled with Rhodamine B isothiocyanate, a fluorescent dye. Labeled fines were blended with pulp at different concentrations and paper sheets were produced from each mixture. Prior to imaging, pulps and handsheets were characterized by standard pulp and paper tests and compared with references, showing no significant differences between sheets containing labeled and untreated fines. Thus, mechanical and physical tests indicated that no, or only minor alteration of fines properties by the labeling process occurred. We then applied two imaging techniques to detect the labeled pulp fines in the paper network, namely confocal laser scanning microscopy and multiphoton microscopy, visualizing the 3D distribution of fluorescent fines within the fiber network. The results obtained also allowed a differentiation between morphologically different fines showing fiber fragments more attached to single fibers whereas more fibrillar fines concentrate in fiber–fiber joints, thereby strengthening bonding.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6933-6942
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jun 2019

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