Chemical modification of polysaccharides with hydrophilic polymers for CaCO3 crystal growth modification and filler retention, for paper applications
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Polysaccharides were modified with selected polymers via the grafting technique. Both anionic and cationic polysaccharides were prepared. Random and crosslinked graft copolymers were also prepared. The percentage grafting was determined by gravimetric analysis and results were confirmed by cross-polarization magic angle spinning carbon-13 nuclear magnetic resonance microscopy (CP/MAS 13C NMR). These modified biodegradable polymers were then used to flocculate precipitated calcium carbonate (PCC). The effects of pH, percentage grafting, crosslinker concentration and polysaccharide concentration on PCC flocculation were evaluated. Furthermore, the effects of anionic and cationic starch, either added to PCC sequentially or simultaneously, on PCC flocculation were also investigated. Generally, anionically modified starch showed excellent flocculation properties, which are desirable for the end application of PCC retention. The effect of polyacrylic acid (PAA) and polyacrylamide (PAM) modified cellulose fibers on calcium carbonate crystal nucleation and growth modification was investigated. When the heterogeneous crystallization of CaCO3 was carried out in the presence of modified cellulose fibers the CaCO3 crystals were found to be residing on the surface of the fibers. The morphologies of the crystallized CaCO3, polymorph and fiber surface coverage were different for cellulose materials grafted with polymers of different functionalities, meaning that there is interaction between the crystal growth modifier and the growing nuclei. The effect of the modified starch on the crystallization of calcium carbonate gave useful insight into designing CaCO3 filler morphologies. It was found that the filler size, morphology and surface properties of fillers can be tailor-made by choosing suitable CaCO3 crystallization conditions as well as a suitable crystal growth modifier. The crystallized CaCO3 had a negatively charged surface. Results of fluorescence studies showed that the PAA modified starch (polymeric additive used) resided on the surface of the crystals. Thus the presence of the polysaccharide on the surface of a filler could be advantageous for strengthening fiber–filler bonding in paper applications. Anionic starch materials were also used to prepare anionic-starch-coated starch particles. Both the anionic starch and anionic-starch-coated starch particles were evaluated for PCC retention and other properties of hand sheets. When anionic-starch-coated starch particles were used there was generally an improvement in the PCC retention, while the other paper properties remained desirable. The success achieved with the use of anionic-starch-coated starch particles now opens the way for the further preparation and testing of various modified starch particles, for optimization of filler retention.