In the present thesis, the effects of the carbonate radical anion on lignin and cellulose were investigated.
The carbonate radical has a rather high reactivity towards aromatic lignin constituents. It reacts especially fast with phenolates. All these reactions occur by way of electron transfer. Small carbohydrates react with CO3 •- much slower than aromatics. These reactions are hydrogen transfer reactions. However, in very basic media, where the carbohydrates deprotonate to some extent, their anions react with CO3 •- by way of electron transfer and the rates approach those of non-phenolic aromatics. These findings suggest that in neutral or slightly alkaline media CO3 •- might serve as an excellent delignifying agent of pulp down to very low lignin contents. With small carbohydrates possessing one or two glucosidic bonds, CO3 •- abstracts hydrogen predominantly from C1 – H bonds, which results in rupture of the glucosidic linkage. Interestingly, however, the glucosidic bonds in cotton linters are rather resistent towards CO3 •-. This has probably morphological reasons. These results imply that, even at very low lignin contents, where CO3 •- is bound to react with cellulose, the reactions will not lead to substantial decrease in pulp viscosity.
At present the cheapest and most practical way of producing CO3 •- radicals in the presence of pulp is to mix the latter with peroxynitrite and CO2. We have performed such experiments on pulp with very promising results. The Kappa number decreased substantially, brightness increased, while the viscosity remained high. This confirms the predicted excellent properties of the carbonate radical.
However, before the peroxynitrite method can be implemented in the pulp industry, a number of technical problems has to be solved. Chief among them is a slow and steady dosage of peroxynitrite to minimise side reactions of the radicals with peroxynitrite and the nitrite impurity. The fate of the •NO2 radical, the coproduct of CO3 •-, has also to be assessed. •NO2 will probably have to be removed by vigorous degassing in order to block the possible nitration of cellulose.
Stockholm: KTH , 2005. , 62 p.