NC State
A. Paajanen, P. Penttilä, A. Zitting and J.A. Ketoja. New tools to study water interactions of microfibril bundles: Molecular modelling based on nanoscale characterization. In Advances in Pulp and Paper Research, Cambridge 2022, Trans. of the XVIIth Fund. Res. Symp. Cambridge, 2022 (D. Coffin and W. Batchelor, eds), pp 483–494. FRC, Manchester, 2022.


The picture of the smallest structural units of wood fibres, that is, cellulose microfibrils and their bundles, has become more accurate during the last couple of decades, when information gained from several experimental characterisations has been drawn together. This work has been supported by computational methods that allow one to test the behaviour of postulated structures on the nanometre scale, and thus help in interpreting the experimental data. Bound water is an essential component in these models, as it affects both the structural swelling and the mechanical properties of the fibre wall nanostructure. Moreover, mechanisms on this scale can be expected to drive similar properties of macroscopic fibres. We suggest that several large-scale problems in papermaking and converting could be approached with atomistic molecular dynamics simulations for varied chemical compositions and external conditions. We demonstrate this by first showing that simulated moisture diffusion rates agree with measured ones at room temperature, and then determine diffusion rates at elevated temperatures that lack reliable experimental data. These predictions provide key knowledge for further development of high-temperature drying and pressing processes. The results are important also when linking material performance at varied external conditions to the composition of the fibres.

Download PDF