ISSN print edition: 0366-6352
ISSN electronic edition: 1336-9075
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Enhanced water absorption of tissue paper by cross-linking cellulose with poly(vinyl alcohol)

A. Cláudia S. Ferreira, Roberto Aguado, Raquel Bértolo, Ana M. M. S. Carta, Dina Murtinho, and Artur J. M. Valente

CQC, Department of Chemistry, University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal



Received: 18 January 2022  Accepted: 20 March 2022



Tissue paper was the only paper grade whose consumption increased during 2020 in Europe. In a highly competitive context, this work explores a strategy based on bisacrylamide cross-linkers and poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA), seeking to enhance the water uptake of pulps for tissue paper and the key properties of the resulting tissue sheets: water absorption capacity, capillarity, softness, porosity, and strength. For that, α-cellulose from cotton and a kraft hardwood pulp, in parallel, were reacted with N,N’-methylenebisacrylamide, both in the absence and in the presence of PVA. The water desorption rate of the modified polymers was monitored. Pulp blends were then mixed with a conventional softwood pulp (30%) to prepare laboratory tissue paper sheets (20 g m–2). For cotton cellulose, cross-linking with PVA more than doubled the water uptake, up to 7.3 g/g. A significant enhancement was also obtained in the case of pulps, up to 9.6 g/g, and in the case of paper, to 11.9 g/g. This improvement was consistent with a drastic increase in porosity, and it was not detrimental to paper strength.

Graphical Abstract

Keywords: Cellulose; Cross-linking; Kraft pulp; Pulp and paper; Poly(vinyl alcohol)

Full paper is available at

DOI: 10.1007/s11696-022-02188-y


Chemical Papers 76 (7) 4497–4507 (2022)

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