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Spectroscopic and Microscopic Study of Peroxyformic Pulping of Agave Waste

  • Hilda M. Hernández-Hernández (a1), Jorge J. Chanona-Pérez (a2), Alberto Vega (a3), Pablo Ligero (a3), Reynold R. Farrera-Rebollo (a2), Jorge A. Mendoza-Pérez (a4), Georgina Calderón-Domínguez (a2) and Norma Güemes Vera (a1)...

The peroxyformic process is based on the action of a carboxylic acid (mainly formic acid) and the corresponding peroxyacid. The influences of processing time (60–180 min), formic acid concentration (80–95%), temperature (60–80°C), and hydrogen peroxide concentration (2–4%) on peroxyformic pulping of agave leaves were studied by surface response methodology using a face-centered factorial design. Empirical models were obtained for the prediction of yield, κ number (KN) and pulp viscosity as functions of the aforementioned variables. Mathematical optimization enabled us to select a set of operational variables that produced the best fractionation of the material with the following results: pulp yield (26.9%), KN (3.6), and pulp viscosity (777 mL/g). Furthermore, this work allowed the description and evaluation of changes to the agave fibers during the fractionation process using different microscopic and spectroscopic techniques, and provided a comprehensive and qualitative view of the phenomena occurring in the delignification of agave fibers. The use of confocal and scanning electron microscopy provided a detailed understanding of the microstructural changes to the lignin and cellulose in the fibers throughout the process, whereas Raman spectroscopy and X-ray diffraction analysis indicated that cellulose in the pulp after treatment was mainly of type I.

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Microscopy and Microanalysis
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