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Wood Research and Technology


Cellulose – Hemicelluloses – Lignin – Wood Extractives

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Volume 67, Issue 7


Characterization of fiber development in high- and low-consistency refining of primary mechanical pulp

Dinesh Fernando
  • Corresponding author
  • Department of Forest Products/Wood Science, Wood Ultrastructure Research Centre (WURC), Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, SE-75007 Uppsala, Sweden
  • Email
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Dmitri Gorski
  • Norske Skog Saugbrugs, N-1756 Halden, Norway
  • Department of Mechanical Engineering, Pulp and Paper Centre, The University of British Columbia, 2385 East Mall, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V6T 1Z4
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Marc Sabourin / Geoffrey Daniel
  • Department of Forest Products/Wood Science, Wood Ultrastructure Research Centre (WURC), Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, SE-75007 Uppsala, Sweden
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2013-03-14 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/hf-2012-0135


Primary refined softwood was subjected to high-consistency (HC) or low-consistency (LC) secondary refining, and the nature of the development of the internal and external fiber microstructure and ultrastructure has been compared. The primary refining of mixed softwood as a raw material was performed in pilot scale by the advanced thermomechanical pulp process. The study was aiming at the comparative characterization of LC and HC pulps at the fiber level when produced with similar and well-characterized handsheet properties. The formerly described Simons’ staining method was applied. A significant degree of fiber wall delamination/internal fibrillation (D/IF) was observed during both LC and HC refining. Both the energy input and the refining consistency had a significant impact on elevating the degree of fiber wall D/IF. The statistical evaluation of internal fiber development indicated that the fiber populations in LC- and HC-refined pulps had a similar degree of fiber wall D/IF despite having a large difference in refining energy input (420 kW h odt-1), confirming that D/IF was promoted more energy-efficiently in LC than in HC refining. The characteristic of the external fiber development from HC and LC refining was very different. Secondary LC refining promoted fiber surfaces with ribbons of thin hairlike threads arising from the inner secondary S2 layer that occasionally developed along the whole fiber length. Broad sheet- and lamellae-type external fibrillation from the S2 was typical for HC refining, and these characteristics were rarely observed in the LC pulps. The mechanisms for LC and HC fiber development are proposed. The cell wall characteristics (internal and external) of the pulp fibers appear to govern most of the physical and optical properties in handsheets.

Keywords: ATMP; delamination/internal fibrillation (D/IF); fiber characterization; fiber development; surface ultrastructure of fibers; HC refining; LC refining; SEM; Simons’ staining


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About the article

Corresponding author: Dinesh Fernando, Department of Forest Products/Wood Science, Wood Ultrastructure Research Centre (WURC), Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, SE-75007 Uppsala, Sweden, e-mail:

Received: 2012-08-13

Accepted: 2013-02-11

Published Online: 2013-03-14

Published in Print: 2013-10-01

Citation Information: Holzforschung, Volume 67, Issue 7, Pages 735–745, ISSN (Online) 1437-434X, ISSN (Print) 0018-3830, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/hf-2012-0135.

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