A novel method is introduced to describe quantitatively hysteresis seen in flow curves of microfibrillated cellulose suspensions. Also, a data normalisation procedure is presented that allows a direct comparison of data from suspensions of different solids contents. The discussion of the flow curve hysteresis of an MFC suspension is proposed to provide a lot of information on the suspension morphology under flow. Such information is not only useful for process design, but also may serve as a quality control tool. Hysteresis data as a function of the suspension solids content are provided, and considered with reference to an overview made of peer work in the field. Two discrete hysteresis loop areas were found in the flow curves presented in this work, each associated with a distinct shear rate region, one where the viscosity of the flow curve during shear rate increase is higher than that of the shear rate flow curve at decreasing shear rate (named positive hysteresis) and another where it is the opposite (named negative hysteresis). This behavior seems to have been rarely reported, and where reported we offer an explanation, based on morphological models and rheometer measurement set up, as to why other researchers may find a variety of hysteresis forms. It is hypothesised that the negative normalised hysteresis is mainly depending on the excessive flocculation/ structuration induced at intermediate shear rates during the shear rate increase, and that it is necessarily less with increasing solids content because of the reduced availability of free water. The positive normalised hysteresis, however, is considered to originate from the different morphologies at lower shear rates, i.e. the initial, homogeneous structure vs. the structure that was previously induced by the intermediate shear during shear rate decrease. The positive normalised hysteresis appears not to depend on the solids content, indicating a self-similarity or scaling behavior of the structuring with respect to the underlying network structure.
- Flow curve
- Microfibrillated cellulose