Cellulose can be directly dissolved in cold alkali without derivatization. However, this requires low cellulose molecular weight, i. e. low pulp viscosity, preferably below 300 mL g−1. This can be achieved by for example acid or enzymatic hydrolysis of the dissolving pulp. However, it would be beneficial to manufacture pulp with sufficiently low viscosity without an additional treatment stage prior to dissolution. Unit processes in pulping can be operated in such a way as to reduce the molecular weight of cellulose. The approach of the study was to modify the conditions in unit pulping processes in order to obtain a low pulp viscosity of fully bleached prehydrolysis kraft pulp. A high charge of alkali in the oxygen delignification reduced the cellulose molecular weight significantly. Increased temperature, 120 °C compared to 98 °C, had also a significant effect on viscosity. By performing peroxide bleaching at acidic pH, the viscosity could be sufficiently reduced even when oxygen delignification was performed at lower temperature. However, for high brightness, a chlorine dioxide stage is needed.
Funding source: Horizon 2020 Framework Programme
Award Identifier / Grant number: 720729
Funding statement: The study was funded by European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 720729.
Magnus Paulsson is thanked for valuable comments on the manuscript.
Conflict of interest: The authors declare no conflicts of interest.
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