The behavior of pressed poplar chemi-thermomechanical pulping (CTMP) without additive the focus of our study. Four CTMPs with decreasing lignin contents were prepared by the sodium chlorite/acetic acid method and the holocellulose, α-cellulose, pentosan and Klason lignin contents of the delignified CTMPs were determined. The surface composition, aggregation structure and microstructure of the delignified fibers were characterized by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), X-ray diffraction (XRD) and scanning electron microscope (SEM), and the mechanical properties of the fiber material were investigated by means of tensile and bending tests. As shown by XPS, the lignin content of the Pr-CTMP surface layer firstly increased and then decreased as the lignin content of CTMP decreased. With the delignification time increased from 0 to 240 min, the crystallinity index (CrI) of CTMP increased from 60.1% to 65.7%. The CrI of all CTMPs at different delignification degrees showed significant elevated values after hot-pressing. The fiber cell wall became thinner and the cells were flattened and thus elevated the contact area among fibers and, as a consequence, the density of material gradually increased at higher delignification degrees. The tensile strength increased by ca. 10%, when the lignin content decreased from 24.9% to 13.1%, and by ca. 53%, when the lignin content decreased from 13.1% to nearly zero. The bending strength increased with increasing delignification. When the removal rate of lignin increased from 47% to 54%, the bending strength increased from 101 to 122 MPa.
This work was financially supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (no. 2017YFD0601004), and the Fundamental Research Funds for Central Universities (no. 2572016AB69).
Author contributions: All the authors have accepted responsibility for the entire content of this submitted manuscript and approved submission.
Research funding: None declared.
Employment or leadership: None declared.
Honorarium: None declared.
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