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Keywords:

  • biopdegradation;
  • cellulose;
  • crystallinity;
  • x-ray diffraction

Abstract

Chemical treatments similar to those routinely used to extract cellulose from plant biomass caused significant increases in the relative crystallinity index (RCI) of Sig-macell 100 (a commercial cellulose of moderate crystallinity), as measured by x-ray powder diffraction in both the reflectance and transmittance modes. In general, the largest increases in RCI were observed following higher (rather than lower) temperature treatments. Substantial increases in crystalliity were also observed upon resuspension in water prior to drying, with higher temperatures again resulting in the greatest increases in RCI. Measurement of the RCIs of wetted Sigmacell 100 samples by acid hydrolysis kinetics revealed that most of the increased crystallinity occurred rapidly upon contact with water. In contrast to Sigmacell 100, a cellulose of higher initial crystallinity (the microcrystalline cellulose Sigmacell 50) showed little change in crystallinity following the above treatments. The results provide a partial explanation for the inconsistent relationships reported between cellulose crystallinity and cellulose biodegradation. © 1995 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.