Cellulose dissolution in water-based solvents is essential for processing of regenerated cellulose products such as fibres, films and particles. Cellulose dissolution in NaOH–urea aqueous solution has emerged as a simple and attractive alternative for processing cellulose solutions. However, this solvent requires energy intensive pretreatments such as milling or refining. In this paper we investigate a one step chemical pretreatment method using ethanol–hydrochloric acid prior to the dissolution of cellulose in NaOH–urea–water. The dissolution mechanism of the pretreated sample was initially examined in diluted cupri-ethylenediamine and 7% NaOH–12% urea–water solvent using optical microscopy methods and field emission scanning electron microscopy. The apparent energy of activation for the viscous flow of ethanol–acid pretreated pulp in NaOH–urea–water was calculated using rheological methods. Our results showed that the dissolution of pretreated pulp was achieved up to 4% cellulose concentration. We suggest that the enhancement of dissolution was due to a combination of degradation of remnant primary fibre wall layer and reduction of degree of polymerization of cellulose.
Trygg, J. & Fardim, P. Cellulose (2011) 18: 987. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10570-011-9550-y