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The Role of Stilbenes in Bleaching and Colour Stability of Mechanical Pulps. I. the Reaction of Lignin Model Stilbenes With Alkali and Oxygen

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The reactions of lignin model hydroxystilbenes and TMP with alkaline hydrogen peroxide and with alkali and oxygen have been studied to determine the susceptibility of stilbenes to oxidative degradation. Oxygen in the presence of alkali readily destroys lignin model stilbenes via cleavage of the olefinic double bond. The stilbene must contain a ring hydroxyl substituent for the reaction to occur. The reaction is fastest if the stilbenes have p,p'-dihydroxyl substituents. Stilbenes of the type likely to be attached to the lignin in pulps have only one hydroxyl group and are more stable. Hydrogen peroxide, by itself, is unreactive with stilbenes but the presence of oxygen as a peroxide decomposition product should limit the accumulation of stilbenes during alkaline peroxide bleaching of mechanical pulps. Alkaline peroxide bleaching of mechanical pulps under a pressurised atmosphere of oxygen gas leads to a slight increase in brightness and brightness stability. Guaiacyl-substituted stilbenes are more stable to alkali and oxygen than are syringyl-substituted stilbenes. This may partially explain why it is easier to bleach hardwood than softwood mechanical pulps.

Affiliations: 1: Pulp and Paper Research Institute of Canada, 570 St. John's Boulevarde, Pointe Claire, Quebec H9R 3J9; 2: Chemistry Department, Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, Ontario, P7B 5EI


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