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  • Date:2014-06-05

In the realm of forest products R&D, the Division of Wood Cellulose stresses studies and developments in pulping, papermaking, and biomass conversion.

On the pulping and papermaking researches:

The emphases are R&D and innovation of new processes and products and amendments of the older processes. These include:

  1. Preparation of specialty papers;
    In recent years, advanced industrial nations often consider specialty paper productions as the most apt strategy in recasting of small-scale paper mills in light of sustainable development. However, there is a lack of R&D, and production of such papers. As a consequence, we’ve endeavored to engage in studies of fiber morphological and chemical characteristics on the production of specialty papers such as glassine, high opacity, and high water absorbency papers. The results of these studies should provide useful reference to the domestic industrial development and advancing technical know-how in specialty papers.
  2. Flatness and preservation of mounted paper artworks:
    1. Utilizing modern scientific methodology to investigate and understand the actual factors affecting flatness of mounted paper artwork and seeking treatment strategies to reduce the time required for the artworks to be backed on board and resulting in flat, unwarped hung display pieces.
    2. Providing procedural instruction for artwork mounters and restorers to follow that shall improve the overall Chinese artwork mounting standard and the quality of such artworks in display.
  3. Develop new analytical and quality prediction technologies for the pulp chemical compositoin and handsheet physical properties.
    The raw materials for pulp and paper are plant fibers. The great varieties and variations in these would entail different pulp quality, and physical and optical properties of the resulting papers. Therefore, chemical compositional analyses of the pulp have a definite impact on the pulp and paper production as well as paper properties. However, the traditional method of chemical analyses and handsheet assessment require large specimens, complicated and tedious procedures which can be ill-afforded by a production system. Therefore, the division aims to develop a near-infrared (NIR) spectroscopic method-based analytical system to be applied to pulp chemical compositions analyses and prediction of handsheet physical properties. The novel, accurate, rapid and nondestructive analytical methods thus established will be applied to domestic pulp and paper industry so as to foster advanced optimizing procedures to the production industry. These will be expected to bring substantial economic and social benefits in the future.
  4. R&D of nano-cellulose:
    So minute as invisible, while retaining ultra-high moduli of strengths and special optical properties, nano-cellulose has become a rage in global biomass conversion studies with tremendous implications and applicability that are limited only by human ingenuity. The division adopted the TEMPO oxidation method in conjunction with pre-grinding and screening of fibers, adjusting of reagent concentrations and use of both mechanical stirring and ultrasonic agitation to achieve preparation of nano-cellulose. The resulting products can be used in specialty papers of high mechanical strengths and unique optical properties. We are exploring the use of the material in combination with other green materials to form novel nanocomposites.

In the arena of biomass conversion R&D:

At present, attempts to turn lignocellulosic materials to biofuel encounter low yield and high cost of hydrolysis etc. The fundamental causes are interconnections of cellulose to hemicelluloses and lignin, coupled with crystallinity of cellulose which effectively prevents cellulase to access cellulose surfaces, leading to very low saccharification efficiency. If through proper pretreatments, large amounts of lignin can be removed and at the same time allow dissolution of hemicellulose and destructuring of cellulose crystallites, then the greatly exposed cellulose surfaces shall enable improved saccharification efficiency. Therefore, various pretreatment techniques including organosolv, acid, alkali, and steam explosion have been or will be applied to biomass. The resulting destructured lignocellulosics and pulping black liquor ligneous fractions are characterized. Finally, the pretreated materials will be subjected to enzymatic and acid hydrolysis to evaluate their saccharification efficiency. The objective of these approaches is to achieve high conversion efficiency of raw materials to simple sugars, which are platforms for developing new energy, protecting the environment and sustainable utilization of resources.