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Thermal softening of rattan canes: influence of the hemi cellulose-lignin matrix

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The influence of the hemicellulose-lignin matrix of the cell wall of eight rattan species on the thermal softening of cane was evaluated using the creep compliance test. Extractive free samples were first prepared using ethanol-benzene. This was followed with the chemical analysis of the rattan cell wall using standard procedures used in wood. Results revealed that the cell wall is 42-53% alpha-cellulose, 19-27% hemicellulose and 20-40% lignin. The creep compliance test showed the softening behaviour of the samples due to the application of heat. Softening occurred from 70-85°C for extractive-free, 75-95°C for holocellulose and 100°C for alpha-cellulose samples. For the eight species, variation in the degree of thermal softening was observed. This was attributed to the differences in the proportion of hemicellulose-lignin matrix between species: the higher the volume of the matrix, the larger was the observed molecular movement. Reduction in thermal softening values from the extractive-free materials to the holocellulose and up to the alpha cellulose samples was also noticed. This is parallel to the reduction in the matrix volume because of the removal of lignin. Alpha-cellulose still exhibited some movement. Such movement can only be derived from the crystalline-amorphous region within the cellulose chain. The more crystalline the material, the smaller was the observed molecular movement.


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