Probing the molecular weights of sweetgum and pine kraft lignin fractions, TAPPI Journal June 2021



Application: The molecular weight of lignin fragments in black liquor changes during the kraft cooking process. These changes follow polymeric gel degradation theory. The current work is a step towards specific MW isolation of lignin during the pulping process.

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Author: uliana M. Jardim, Peter W. Hart, Lucian Lucia, and Hasan Jameel
Probing the molecular weights of sweetgum and pine kraft lig
ABSTRACT: The present investigation undertook a systematic investigation of the molecular weight (MW) of kraft lignins throughout the pulping process to establish a correlation between MW and lignin recovery at different extents of the kraft pulping process. The evaluation of MW is crucial for lignin characterization and utilization, since it is known to influence the kinetics of lignin reactivity and its resultant physico-chemical properties. Sweetgum and pine lignins precipitated from black liquor at different pHs (9.5 and 2.5) and different extents of kraft pulping (30•150 min) were the subject of this effort. Gel permeation chromatography (GPC) was used to determine the number average molecular weight (Mn), mass average molecular weight (Mw), and polydispersity of the lignin samples. It was shown that the MW of lignins from both feedstocks follow gel degradation theory; that is, at the onset of the kraft pulping process low molecular weight-lignins were obtained, and as pulping progressed, the molecular weight peaked and subsequently decreased. An important finding was that acetobromination was shown to be a more effective derivatization technique for carbohydrates containing lignins than acetylation, the technique typically used for derivatization of lignin.
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