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Keywords:

  • flax pulp;
  • fiber classification;
  • laccase treatments;
  • bast and core fibers;
  • biobleaching;
  • biografting

Abstract

Laccases in combination with various chemical compounds have been tested with a view to obtain environmental friendly, high-value paper products from unbleached flax pulp, which is currently being assessed as a raw material for biotechnological innovation. With the aim of better understanding the effects of violuric acid (VA) and p-coumaric acid (PCA) on flax pulp, changes in the chemical composition of the two major fiber types it contains were assessed. Following classification, the initial pulp was split into two fractions according to fiber size, namely: bast (long) fibers and core (short) fibers. Fiber size was found to significantly influence the properties of pulp and it response to various laccase treatments. The laccase-PCA treatment substantially increased kappa number (KN) and color in both fiber fractions, which suggests grafting of the phenolic compound onto fibers. On the other hand, the laccase-VA treatment produced long fibers with a low lignin content (KN = 1.3) and a high brightness (5% points higher than for the control fraction), which testifies to its bleaching efficiency. Both biotreatments produced long fibers containing highly crystalline cellulose and caused HexA removal from global and short fibers. On the other hand, the laccase treatments caused no morphological changes in the fibers, the integrity of which was largely preserved. As shown here, laccase acts as polymerization agent with PCA and as delignification agent with VA; also, the two enzymes systems act differently on bast and core fibers. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2012;109: 225–233. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.