Regenerated cellulose films were laminated with polyvinylamine, PVAm, and the wet peel delamination forces were used to explore the mechanism by which PVAm increases the wet strength of paper. Conventional wet strength resins contain highly reactive chemical groups which can crosslink the resin and graft it to fibre surfaces. By contrast, it is not obvious how PVAm provides wet strength.
The delamination experiments revealed that PVAm gives strong adhesion which was approximately independent of drying temperature (23 to 110°C), pH 3 to 9, PVAm molecular weight (34,000 to 1,500,000Da), and PVAm coverage (monolayer to 70mg/m2 ). By contrast the adhesion increased with the amine content of PVAm and with the degree of oxidation of the cellulose films. It is proposed that the PVAm adhesion is a combination of electrostatic and covalent bonding. The electrostatic bonding is between protonated amines, which are positively charged, and carboxyl groups on the cellulose. Whereas the covalent bonds, aminal and imine linkages, are formed between amines and aldehyde groups on the oxidized films.