Understanding wet tear strength at varying moisture content in handsheets, 2021 TAPPICon Live (21TAPL)

A laboratory study was conducted looking at the effects of moisture content on wet tear strength in handsheets. Three different wetting techniques were used to generate the wet tear (Elmendorf-type) data at varying moisture levels, from TAPPI standard conditions (dry) to over 60% moisture content (saturated). Unbleached hard-wood and softwood fiber from full-scale kraft pulp production were used. The softwood fiber was refined using a Valley beater to reduce freeness. Handsheets were made with a blend of hardwood and softwood and with refined softwood, without the addition of wet-end chemistry.

The resulting grams-force tear data obtained from the test was indexed with basis weight and plotted versus both moisture content and dryness. As moisture content levels in the handsheets increased, the wet tear strength also increased, reaching a critical maximum point. This marked a transition point on the graph where, beyond a critical moisture content level, the tear strength began to decline linearly as moisture increased. This pattern was repeated in handsheets made from a blend of hardwood and softwood and from 100% refined softwood. 

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Author: Adele Panek, Joel Panek, James Faught, and Peter W. Hart
Understanding wet tear strength at varying moisture content

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