Solid state NMR spectroscopy was used to analyse the inhomogeneous structure of kraft fibre. Primary
fines, isolated from the original kraft pulp, and secondary fines, isolated after refining, were compared
with the corresponding long fibres. To fractionate fibre wall surface material, the kraft pulp was refined
in stages. After each stage, the secondary fines and long fibres were separated and the long fibres refined
again to peel off the surface material. It was found that the crystallinity of cellulose is lower in fines compared
with the corresponding long fibres. When the fines fractions were compared with each other, the
cellulose crystallinity was observed to increase towards the inner parts of the fibre surface. A very clear
gradient was also seen in the amount of extractives, which was highest in the primary fines rich in ray
cells. The contents of lignin and some hemicelluloses, mainly xylan and glucomannan, were also higher
in fines. Residual lignin isolated from the fines was found to be slightly more condensed than residual
lignin from long fibres.
Residual lignin carbohydrate complexes (RLCC) were isolated enzymatically from spruce and pine pulp. The RLCCs contained 4.9–9.4% carbohydrates, with an enrichment of galactose and arabinose compared to the original pulp samples. The main carbohydrate units present in all studied RLCCs were 4-substituted xylose, 4-, 3- and 3,6-substituted galactose, 4-substituted glucose and 4 and 4,6-substituted mannose. These units were assigned to carbohydrate residues of xylan, 1,4- and 1,3/6-linked galactan, cellulose and glucomannan.
RLCCs of surface material and the inner part of spruce kraft pulp fiber were compared to obtain information on the heterogeneity of layers of the fiber wall. The 1,4-linked galactan was the major galactan in RLCC of fiber surface material of spruce kraft pulp. Towards the inner part of the fiber, the proportion of 1,3/6-linked galactan increased relative to 1,4-linked galactan. This finding is presented for the first time. 1,3/6-Linked galactan structures are suggested to have a role in restricting lignin removal from the secondary fiber wall.
RLCCs of three different alkaline pine pulps were studied before and after oxygen delignification to evaluate differences resulting from the cooking method. The pulps were conventional kraft pine pulp (PCK), a polysulfide/anthraquinone pine pulp (PPSAQ) and a soda/anthraquinone pine pulp (PSoAQ); all were cooked to approximately kappa number 30. Small differences were found in the carbohydrate structures of the unbleached pulps. The study indicated that the RLCC of unbleached PSoAQ pulp contained longer oligomeric carbohydrate chains and less branched 1,3/6-linked galactan residues than the RLCCs of unbleached PCK and PPSAQ pulps. The RLCC of the unbleached PSoAQ also contained more 1,4-linked glucose units suggesting a greater number of linkages of lignin to cellulose in the PSoAQ pulp than in the other two pulps. All RLCCs of oxygen-delignified pulps had more non-reducing ends and less 1,3/6-linked galactan than the corresponding RLCCs of the unbleached pulps. The RLCC of the oxygen-delignified PSoAQ pulp had a higher ratio of 1,4-galactan to 1,3/6-linked galactan and shorter xylan residues than the RLCCs of oxygen-delignified PCK and PPSAQ pulps.