It is well known that when cellulose is dissolved in aqueous NaOH-based solvent, solutions are gelling with increasing time and temperature. The goal of this work was to understand if the presence of non-dissolved cellulose fibers influences gelation behavior of the whole system. One of the motivations is to control gelation when making all-cellulose composites with short fibers dispersed in cellulose-NaOH-water solutions. Gelation kinetics of cellulose(dissolving pulp)-NaOH-water solutions with added softwood kraft fibers were investigated using dynamic rheology. Fiber concentration, dissolving pulp degree of polymerization and solution temperature were varied. In all cases the addition of kraft fibers accelerates gelation and increases modulus at gel point while the presence of “inert” carbon fibers does not influence solution gelation kinetics. It was suggested that acceleration of gelation and reinforcement of cellulose gels is due to the interactions between dissolved and non-dissolved cellulose.
- All-cellulose composites