Cellular biopolymers and molecular structure of a secondary pulp and paper mill sludge verified by spectroscopy and chemical extraction techniques

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For proper treatment, recycling, or disposal of the pulp and paper mill secondary sludge qualitative and quantitative determination of its characteristics are necessary. Chemical extraction, quantitative characterization, and spectroscopic experiments have been performed to determine the molecular composition and chemical functionality of a pulp and paper mill secondary sludge. In order to extract the low-molecular-weight substances, soxhlet extraction with polar and non-polar solvents was performed where most of the target substances (17±1.3%.) were extracted after 2 hours. Over time, this extraction followed a first-order kinetics. Fiber analyses have shown 12±3% lignin, 28±3% cellulose, and 12±4% hemicelluloses content. The ash content was about 17±0.5%. In this work, 7 and 16% intra- and extracellular polymeric substances, respectively, were extracted from the secondary sludge. EPS and mixture of intra- and extracellular biopolymers have shown similar chemical functionalities. These analyses confirmed that the paper secondary sludge consisted mainly of wood fiber, i.e. lignocellulosic substances, along with proteins and polysaccharides originated from microorganisms.

Keywords: FTIR spectroscopy, pulp and paper secondary sludge, sludge analysis, wood biopolymers

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