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Keywords:

  • cellulose;
  • fibers;
  • lyocell;
  • structure;
  • swelling

Abstract

Lyocell fibers were treated with KOH up to 8 M which was demonstrated to distribute homogeneously at the outer zones of fiber cross section compared to NaOH which accesses more deeply but less homogenously. Both NaOH and KOH solutions can be used to lower significantly the fibrillation of lyocell fibers. However, due to intrafibrillar swelling together with deep penetration ability of alkali seen for NaOH treatments results in great fiber tensile strength loss which is not observed for KOH treatments due to its inability to penetrate the fiber completely. The porous structure of fibers was studied by inverse size exclusion chromatography (ISEC) to identify mean pore diameter, total pore area and accessible pore volume (APV). Mean pore diameter of fibers decreased after KOH treatments which did not change after NaOH treatments. Wide angle X-ray diffraction analyses (WAXD) were applied to identify the crystallinity index and crystallite size. In general, fiber properties such as water retention value, carboxyl content using methylene blue sorption method, depth of color measured after dyeing with C.I. Direct Red 81 and weight loss were distinctly different in the ranges up to 2 M, 2-5 M and 5 to 8 M KOH. KOH treatment suggests new possibilities for the pretreatment of lyocell fibers to lower fibrillation while slightly lowering elongation at break without a distinct loss in tensile strength and with less decrease in carboxyl content and weight loss without changing dyeing properties of fibers compared to NaOH treatment.