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Korhonen, M. H. J., Sorvari, A., Saarinen, T., Seppälä, J., and Laine, J. (2014). "Deflocculation of cellulosic suspensions with anionic high molecular weight polyelectrolytes," BioRes. 9(2), 3550-3570.

Abstract

Pulp fibers have a strong tendency to form flocs in water suspensions, which may cause their undesirable distribution in the paper sheets. This flocculation can be controlled by adding, e.g., an anionic high molecular weight polyelectrolyte in the fiber suspension. The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of anionic polyelectrolytes on deflocculation kinetics, dewatering, and rheology of cellulosic suspensions. The results showed that both microfibrillated cellulose (MFC) and macroscopic pulp fibers can be dispersed using anionic polyacrylamides (APAM). The higher the molecular weight of APAM, the higher is its effect. Adsorption experiments illustrate that anionic polyelectrolytes do not strongly attach to cellulose surfaces but they can be partly entrapped or can disperse nanocellulose fibrils (increase the swelling). Based on rheological experiments, the MFC network became weaker with APAM addition. Similar to the flocculation mechanism of cellulosic materials with polymers, deflocculation is also time dependent. Deflocculation occurs very rapidly, and the maximum deflocculation level is achieved within a few seconds. When mixing is continued, the floc size starts to increase again. Also dewatering was found to be strongly dependent on the contact time with the APAMs. These results indicate that the positive effects of anionic deflocculants are quickly diminished due to shear forces, and therefore, the best deflocculating effect is achieved using as short a contact time as possible.
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