Significance of xylan on the stability and water interactions of cellulosic nanofibrils

Tiia-Maria Tenhunen, Maria Soledad Peresin, Paavo A. Penttilä, Jaakko Pere, Ritva Serimaa, Tekla Tammelin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper, the significance of xylan on the behaviour of kraft birch pulp based nanofibrillated cellulose (CNF) is discussed. The influence of CNF xylan content on fibril morphology, charge and stability as well as on the film formation ability was investigated, and the features detected on nanoscale and on macroscale are compared. In addition to this, the ability of fibrils to uptake water molecules were investigated by bulk and surface sensitive methods which are dynamic water sorption analysis (DVS) and quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation monitoring (QCM-D) equipped with the humidity module, respectively. Surface xylan plays a significant role as an electrosteric stabilizer in dilute CNF dispersions when the surface forces are dominant whereas the removal of xylan drastically changes the CNF dispersion properties. The settling of the unstable CNF dispersions displays behaviour which is typical for hindered sedimentation. When considering thin nanoscale layers of CNF, nanofibrillated cellulosic materials with high content of surface xylan has somewhat higher ability to bind water molecules. However, it seems that in more concentrated CNF dispersions where the fibrillar network itself plays also a decisive role, especially with respect to film formation ability, the impact of xylan diminishes. Solvent cast macroscale CNF films are still enough dense to maintain good oxygen barrier performance at higher humid conditions although agglomeration tendency of fibrils is higher due to the excessive xylan removal. These findings are of high relevance when considering nanocellulosic materials, especially in the form of gels and films, as templates for high added value material solutions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-166
Number of pages10
JournalReactive and Functional Polymers
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2014
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Cellulose nanofibrils
  • Electrosteric stability
  • Films
  • Oxygen barrier
  • Water interactions
  • Xylan


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