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Porosity and Pore Size Distribution of Native and Delignified Beech Wood Determined by Mercury Intrusion Porosimetry

Vitas, S.; Segmehl, J.S.; Burgert, I.; Cabane, E.

Materials 12(3)

2019


ISSN/ISBN: 1996-1944
PMID: 30700052
DOI: 10.3390/ma12030416
Accession: 066139109

The complex hierarchical structures of biological materials in combination with outstanding property profiles are great sources of inspiration for material scientists. Based on these characteristic features, the structure of wood has been increasingly exploited to fabricate novel hierarchical and functional materials. With delignification treatments, the density and chemistry of wood can be altered, resulting in hierarchical cellulose scaffolds with enhanced porosity for the fabrication of novel hybrid materials. In the present study, focusing on acidic delignification of beech wood and its influence on porosity, we report on a structural characterization and qualitative assessment of the cellulose scaffolds using mercury intrusion porosimetry (MIP). To account for the effect of water removal from the hygroscopic structure, different drying methods-e.g., standard oven and freeze-drying-were applied. While native beech wood is characterized by the presence of macro, meso and micro pores, delignification altered the porosity, increasing the importance of the macropores in the pore size distribution. Furthermore, we showed that the final porosity obtained in the material is strongly dependent on the applied drying process. Samples delignified under harsh conditions at high temperature (mass loss of ~35%) show a 13% higher porosity after freeze-drying compared to oven-dried samples. The obtained results contribute to a better understanding of the impact of the delignification and drying processes on the porosity of cellulose scaffolds, which is of high relevance for subsequent modification and functionalization treatments.

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