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Swelling properties and generation of cellulose fines originating from bleached kraft pulp refined under different operating conditions

Olejnik, Konrad, Skalski, Bogdan, Stanislawska, Anna, Wysocka-Robak, Agnieszka
Cellulose 2017 v.24 no.9 pp. 3955-3967
bleached kraft pulp, cellulose, cellulosic fibers, dewatering, energy, mechanical properties, papermaking, pulp and paper industry, raw materials, refining, surface area
Cellulose fines are—in general—small particles removed from natural cellulose fibres during refining process which is typically carried out in papermaking industry. Fines have been recognized as a separate component of papermaking fibrous raw material since their properties differ considerably from those of cellulosic fibres. Fines are characterized by low dewatering ability, very high specific surface area, and high swelling ability. Knowledge about the possibility of effective control over fines generation and swelling during refining process are nowadays of key importance. Beside its significance in papermaking process (e.g. impact on paper structure and mechanical properties and dewatering properties of the pulp), nowadays the cellulose fines fraction is considered as a raw material for the production of novel materials e.g. microfibrilled cellulose and nanocellulose. The main objective of the presented study was to determine the impact of the most important refining parameters (e.g. net refining energy, rotor speed, and pulp consistency) which could be used to control the fines development and their swelling degree. On the basis of presented research results it may be concluded that the amount of the fines generated during refining process was mainly affected by the effective refining power (net power) and the rotational speed of the refiner rotor. Also, the final swelling degree of fines varies depending on the refining operating conditions used. It was found that the swelling degree of fines was mostly influenced by the rotational speed of the refiner rotor, refined pulp consistency, and—for very low consistency (1–2%)—also pulp volumetric flow rate through the refiner. As a result, it could be concluded that—for more effective control of the refining process—greater attention to the control of these parameters should be paid.