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Solubility of Softwood Hemicelluloses

Kishani, Saina, Vilaplana, Francisco, Xu, Wenyang, Xu, Chunlin, Wågberg, Lars
Biomacromolecules 2018 v.19 no.4 pp. 1245-1255
Picea abies, dispersions, light scattering, mannans, microscopy, molecular weight, softwood, solubility, solvents, thermomechanical pulping
It is demonstrated that the molecular solubility of softwood hemicelluloses is significantly influenced by pretreatment of the fibers, extraction, and downstream processing. To quantify these effects, four hemicellulose samples were extracted from different thermomechanical pulps of Norway spruce. The molecular solubility of the samples was characterized by size and molar mass distributions, and the morphology of the molecules was studied using high resolution microscopy techniques. All extracted samples were well dispersed in aqueous media creating transparent dispersions, but dynamic light scattering measurements showed that molecular solubility can only be achieved using specific pretreatments and extractions. The procedure yields acetylated galactoglucomannan (AcGGM)-rich hemicelluloses with an average molar mass of 21–35 kDa and a diameter up to 10 nm but also shows that water is a poor solvent for this sample since an association is detected as soon as the concentration is about 20 g/L. These associated hemicellulose dispersions are still absolutely clear on visual inspection, underlining the need for careful measurement when assessing the solubility of wood hemicelluloses.