Comparative studies of the effects of two commercial enzyme formulations on fiber refining were conducted. Extensive basic characterisation of the enzymes involved, assessment of their hydrolytic activities on different model substrates as well as on different pulps (softwood sulfate, softwood sulfite, hardwood sulfate) were evaluated. Both enzyme formulations showed endoglucanase as well as some xylanase and β-glucosidase activity. In addition, Enzyme A reached a CMC end viscosity of 19.5 mPa compared to 11.1 mPa for Enzyme B. Reducing sugar release almost doubled from 695 μmol mL-1 for hardwood sulfate pulp to 1300 μmol mL-1 for softwood sulfite pulp with Enzyme B under the same conditions. Enzyme A increased the degree of refining even under non-ideal conditions from 23 °SR to up to 50 °SR. Further characterization of hand sheets, made from enzyme pre-treated and refined cellulose fibers with Enzyme A and B, showed that Enzyme A had the best effects leading to hand sheets with increased tensile strength and low air permeability. In summary, the increase in the degree of refining seen for Enzyme A correlated to higher xylanase and β-glucosidase activity and lower endoglucanase activity.
Keywords: Cellulase; Cellulose fiber; Hand sheet; Pulp; Reducing sugar; Refining.
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