Separation of vessel elements and fibers was carried out for Eucalyptus kraft and recycled pulp as raw materials. A new separation method is presented. The surface morphology, surface chemical characteristics and chemistry of individual vessel elements were studied using field emission scanning electron microscopy (FE-SEM), microbeam X-ray photo-electron spectroscopy (μ-XPS) and time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (ToF-SIMS). By FE-SEM it could be seen that vessel elements in recycled pulp were almost intact or only partly broken via the pits. They were also detected on the surface of newsprint paper. The chemical composition of vessel element surfaces was similar to that of fibers. The surface coverage by lignin in vessels showed scattered results by μ-XPS. However, normalized lignin peak intensities of ToF-SIMS indicated that vessels had lower surface lignin counts than fibers. Vessel elements in recycled pulp were rich in phthalates and other hydrocarbons originating probably from printing ink and paper chemicals. Fillers, sizes, and other paper chemicals were not completely removed from the recycled vessel surfaces during the de-inking.
©2011 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin Boston