The influence of mannanase and endoglucanase treatment on the fibre stability of spruce CTMP

Grethe Strey 1 , James Wesley-Smith 2 ,  and Francois Wolfaardt
  • 1 Department of Microbiology and Plant Pathology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
  • 2 Electron Microscope Unit, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
  • 3 Sappi Technology Centre, The Innovation Hub, Pretoria, South Africa


An increase in moisture during printing can lead to movement of fibres, such as puffing (return of a fibre to its uncollapsed state), twisting, and lifting of fibres out of the paper web. Spruce fibres are especially subject to these movements, contributing to weak bonding and increased surface roughness. The aim of the present study was to treat spruce pulp with enzymes to improve fibre bonding and stability. Spruce chemi-thermo-mechanical pulp was prepared in the laboratory and treated with mannanase, endoglucanase, and with a combination of these enzymes. Strength properties were evaluated before and after wetting of handsheets and their transverse sections were examined by scanning electron microscopy. Handsheet properties before and after rewetting as well as measurement of lumen area of fibres proved to be effective in evaluating fibre movement and puffing. The treatment of pulp with mannanase or endoglucanase improved fibre stability; however, endoglucanase treatment resulted in a loss of strength. Mannanase appeared to modify the cell walls, making them more susceptible to beating and resulting in improved fibre development and inter-fibre bonding. Endoglucanase possibly damaged fibrils, and fibre degradation instead of fibre development occurred during beating. Stability of thin-walled fibres improved more than thick-walled fibres after enzyme treatment.

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Holzforschung is an international scholarly journal that publishes cutting-edge research on the biology, chemistry, physics and technology of wood and wood components. High quality papers about biotechnology and tree genetics are also welcome. Rated year after year as one of the top scientific journals in the category of Pulp and Paper (ISI Journal Citation Index), Holzforschung represents innovative, high quality basic and applied research.