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Improved methods for evaluating the molar mass distributions of cellulose in kraft pulp



Multi-angle laser light scattering (MALLS) was used to characterize birch kraft pulps with respect to their absolute molecular mass distributions (MMDs). The pulps were dissolved in lithium chloride/N,N-dimethylacetamide and separated by size exclusion chromatography (SEC). The weight-average and number-average molecular masses of the cellulose fractions of the pulps obtained from the absolute MALLS measurements were compared with the molar masses obtained by direct-standard-calibration relative pullulan standards. Discrepancies between the two detection methods were found, and two ways of correlating the relative pullulan molar masses to the absolute molar masses were examined. In the first method, the correlation was made over a large range of molecular masses. The second method correlated the molecular masses of the standards to the molecular masses of samples by the calculation of fictitious, cellulose-equivalent molar masses of the standards. With the preferred second method, a more correct MMD of kraft pulp samples could, therefore, be obtained from an SEC system calibrated with narrow standards. © 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci 88: 1170–1179, 2003