Search Images Maps Play YouTube News Gmail Drive More »
Sign in
Screen reader users: click this link for accessible mode. Accessible mode has the same essential features but works better with your reader.

Patents

  1. Advanced Patent Search
Publication numberUS20090312537 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 12/417,723
Publication dateDec 17, 2009
Filing dateApr 3, 2009
Priority dateApr 30, 2008
Also published asUS8063201, US20110065910, WO2009134746A1
Publication number12417723, 417723, US 2009/0312537 A1, US 2009/312537 A1, US 20090312537 A1, US 20090312537A1, US 2009312537 A1, US 2009312537A1, US-A1-20090312537, US-A1-2009312537, US2009/0312537A1, US2009/312537A1, US20090312537 A1, US20090312537A1, US2009312537 A1, US2009312537A1
InventorsMarshall Medoff
Original AssigneeXyleco, Inc.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Carbohydrates
US 20090312537 A1
Abstract
Carbohydrates having functional groups, such as carboxylic acid groups and methods of making such carbohydrates.
Images(12)
Previous page
Next page
Claims(24)
1. A material comprising a plurality of saccharide units arranged in a molecular chain, wherein from about 1 out of every 2 to about 1 out of every 250 saccharide units comprises a carboxylic acid group, or an ester or salt thereof, wherein the number of carboxylic acid groups is determined by titration.
2. The material of claim 1, wherein the material includes a plurality of said molecular chains.
3. The material of claim 2, wherein each chain comprises hemicellulose or cellulose.
4. The material of claim 1, wherein from about 1 out of every 5 to about 1 out of every 250 saccharide units of each chain comprises a carboxylic acid group, or an ester or salt thereof.
5. The material of claim 1, wherein from about 1 out of every 8 to about 1 out of every 100 saccharide units of each chain comprises a carboxylic acid group, or an ester or salt thereof.
6. The material of claim 1, wherein from about 1 out of every 10 to about 1 out of every 50 saccharide units of each chain comprise a carboxylic acid group, or an ester or salt thereof.
7. The material of claim 1, wherein the material comprise a cellulosic or lignocellulosic material.
8. The material of claim 1, wherein the saccharide units comprise 5 or 6 carbon saccharide units.
9. The material of claim 1, wherein each chain has between about 10 and about 200 saccharide units, e.g., between about 10 and about 100 or between about 10 and about 50.
10. The material of claim 1, wherein the average molecular weight of the material relative to PEG standards is from about 1,000 to about 1,000,000, wherein the molecular weight is determined using GPC, utilizing a saturated solution (8.4% by weight) of lithium chloride (LiCl) in dimethyl acetamide (DMAc) as the mobile phase.
11. The material of claim 1, wherein the average molecular weight of the material relative to PEG standards is less than about 10,000.
12. A method of providing a functionalized carbohydrate, the method comprising:
treating a base material comprising a carbohydrate comprising a plurality of saccharide units with accelerated particles in an oxidizing environment to provide a functionalized carbohydrate in which from about 1 out of every 2 to about 1 out of every 250 saccharide units comprise a carboxylic acid group.
13. A method of providing a functionalized carbohydrate, the method comprising:
treating a base material comprising a carbohydrate comprising a plurality of saccharide units with accelerated particles to provide a functionalized carbohydrate in which from about 1 out of every 5 to about 1 out of every 1500 saccharide units comprise a nitroso, nitro, or nitrile group.
14. A material comprising a plurality of saccharide units arranged in a molecular chain, wherein from about 1 out of every 5 to about 1 out of every 1500 saccharide units comprises a nitroso, nitro, or nitrile group.
15. The material of claim 14, wherein the material includes a plurality of said molecular chains.
16. The material of claim 15, wherein each chain comprises hemicellulose or cellulose.
17. The material of claim 14, wherein from about 1 out of every 10 to about 1 out of every 1000 saccharide units of each chain comprises a nitroso, nitro, or nitrile group.
18. The material of claim 14, wherein from about 1 out of every 35 to about 1 out of every 750 saccharide units of each chain comprises a nitroso, nitro, or nitrile group.
19. The material of claim 14, wherein the material comprises a mixture of nitrile groups and carboxylic acid groups.
20. The material of claim 14, wherein the material comprises a cellulosic or lignocellulosic material.
21. The material of claim 14, wherein the saccharide units comprise 5 or 6 carbon saccharide units.
22. The material of claim 14, wherein each chain has between about 10 and about 200 saccharide units, e.g., between about 10 and about 100 or between about 10 and about 50.
23. The material of claim 14, wherein the average molecular weight of the material relative to PEG standards is from about 1,000 to about 1,000,000, wherein the molecular weight is determined using GPC, utilizing a saturated solution (8.4% by weight) of lithium chloride (LiCl) in dimethyl acetamide (DMAc) as the mobile phase.
24. The material of claim 14, wherein the average molecular weight of the material relative to PEG standards is less than about 10,000.
Description
RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application Ser. Nos. 61/049,405, filed Apr. 30, 2008, 61/073,530, filed Jun. 18, 2008, 61/073,674, filed Jun. 18, 2008, and 61/139,453, filed Dec. 19, 2008. The full disclosure of each of these provisional applications is incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND

Various carbohydrates, such as cellulosic and lignocellulosic materials, e.g., in fibrous form, are produced, processed, and used in large quantities in a number of applications. Often such materials are used once, and then discarded as waste, or are simply considered to be waste materials, e.g., sewage, bagasse, sawdust, and stover.

SUMMARY

Biomass can be processed to alter its structure at one more levels. The processed biomass can then be used as source of materials and fuel.

Many embodiments of this application use Natural Force™ Chemistry. Natural Force Chemistry methods use the controlled application and manipulation of physical forces, such as particle beams, gravity, light, etc., to create intended structural and chemical molecular change. In preferred implementations, Natural Force™ Chemistry methods alter molecular structure without chemicals or microorganisms. By applying the processes of Nature, new useful matter can be created without harmful environmental interference.

Carbohydrate-containing materials (e.g., biomass materials or biomass-derived materials, such as starchy materials, cellulosic materials or lignocellulosic materials) can be treated and processed. In some instances, the carbohydrates described herein are more soluble, e.g., in water, and are more readily utilized by microorganisms, e.g., during fermentation, in comparison to native carbohydrates, e.g., in their natural state. In addition, many of the carbohydrate materials described herein can be less prone to oxidation and can have enhanced long-term stability (e.g., to oxidation in air under ambient conditions).

In one aspect, the invention features materials including a plurality of saccharide units arranged in a molecular chain. From about 1 out of every 2 to about 1 out of every 250 saccharide units includes a carboxylic acid group, or an ester or salt thereof. In another aspect, materials include a plurality of such molecular chains.

In some embodiments, from about 1 out of every 5 to about 1 out of every 250 saccharide units of each chain includes a carboxylic acid group, or an ester or salt thereof. For example, about 1 out of every 8 to about 1 out of every 100 saccharide units of each chain includes a carboxylic acid group, or an ester or salt thereof In another aspect, about 1 out of every 10 to about 1 out of every 50 saccharide units of each chain includes a carboxylic acid group, or an ester or salt thereof.

The materials can include, for example, di- or tri-saccharides, or polymeric saccharides.

In some embodiments, materials include a cellulosic or lignocellulosic material.

In some embodiments, the saccharide units include 5 or 6 carbon saccharide units. In another embodiment, each chain can have between about 10 and about 200 saccharide units, e.g., between about 10 and about 100 or between about 10 and about 50. For example, each chain includes hemicellulose or cellulose.

In some embodiments, the average molecular weight of the materials relative to PEG standards can be from about 1,000 to about 1,000,000, such as between 1,500 and 200,000 or 2,000 and 10,000. For example, the average molecular weight of the materials relative to PEG standards can be less than about 10,000. In some embodiments, of all carbohydrate in the material, at least 10, 25, 50, 75, 80, 90, 95, or 98% of the carbohydrate has one or more of the above properties. Also featured is a preparation of such carbohydrate that is at least 50, 80, 90, 95, 98, or 99% pure.

In some embodiments, each chain also includes saccharide units that include nitroso, nitro, or nitrile groups.

In some embodiments, the material has a low moisture content, e.g., less than about 7.5, 5, 3, 2.5, 2, 1.5, 1, or 0.5% percent water by weight.

In another aspect, the invention features methods of providing functionalized carbohydrates that include providing a base material that includes a carbohydrate that includes a plurality of saccharide units; and treating the base material with accelerated particles in an oxidizing environment to provide a functionalized carbohydrate in which from about 1 out of every 2 to about 1 out of every 250 saccharide units include a carboxylic acid group.

In some embodiments, the base material is irradiated. Radiation may be applied from a device that is in a vault.

The term “fibrous material,” as used herein, is a material that includes numerous loose, discrete and separable fibers. For example, a fibrous material can be prepared from a bleached Kraft paper fiber source by shearing, e.g., with a rotary knife cutter.

The term “screen,” as used herein, means a member capable of sieving material according to size. Examples of screens include a perforated plate, cylinder or the like, or a wire mesh or cloth fabric.

The term “plant biomass” and “lignocellulosic biomass” refer to virtually any plant-derived organic matter (woody or non-woody) available for energy on a sustainable basis.

Plant biomass can include, but is not limited to, agricultural or food crops (e.g., sugarcane, sugar beets or corn kernels) or an extract therefrom (e.g., sugar from sugarcane and corn starch from corn), agricultural crop wastes and residues such as corn stover, wheat straw, rice straw, sugar cane bagasse, and the like. Plant biomass further includes, but is not limited to, trees, woody energy crops, wood wastes and residues such as softwood forest thinnings, barky wastes, sawdust, paper and pulp industry waste streams, wood fiber, and the like. Additionally grass crops, such as switchgrass and the like have potential to be produced on a large-scale as another plant biomass source. For urban areas, the best potential plant biomass feedstock includes yard waste (e.g., grass clippings, leaves, tree clippings, and brush) and vegetable processing waste. Plant biomass also includes aquatic biomass such as algae and seaweed.

“Lignocellulosic feedstock,” is any type of plant biomass such as, but not limited to, non-woody plant biomass, cultivated crops, such as, but not limited to, grasses, for example, but not limited to, C4 grasses, such as switchgrass, cord grass, rye grass, miscanthus, reed canary grass, or a combination thereof, or sugar processing residues such as bagasse, or beet pulp, agricultural residues, for example, soybean stover, corn stover, rice straw, rice hulls, barley straw, corn cobs, wheat straw, canola straw, rice straw, oat straw, oat hulls, corn fiber, recycled wood pulp fiber, sawdust, hardwood, for example aspen wood and sawdust, softwood, or a combination thereof Further, the lignocellulosic feedstock may include cellulosic waste material such as, but not limited to, newsprint, cardboard, sawdust, and the like.

Lignocellulosic feedstock may include one species of fiber or alternatively, lignocellulosic feedstock may include a mixture of fibers that originate from different lignocellulosic feedstocks. Furthermore, the lignocellulosic feedstock may comprise fresh lignocellulosic feedstock, partially dried lignocellulosic feedstock, fully dried lignocellulosic feedstock or a combination thereof.

For the purposes of this disclosure, carbohydrates are materials that are composed entirely of one or more saccharide units or that include one or more saccharide units. Carbohydrates can be part of a supramolecular structure, e.g., covalently bonded into the structure. Examples of such materials include lignocellulosic materials, such as found in wood.

A “sheared material,” as used herein, is a material that includes discrete fibers in which at least about 50% of the discrete fibers, have a length/diameter (L/D) ratio of at least about 5, and that has an uncompressed bulk density of less than about 0.6 g/cm3. A sheared material is thus different from a material that has been cut, chopped or ground.

Unless otherwise defined, all technical and scientific terms used herein have the same meaning as commonly understood by one of ordinary skill in the art to which this invention belongs. Although methods and materials similar or equivalent to those described herein can be used in the practice or testing of the present invention, suitable methods and materials are described below. All publications, patent applications, patents, and other references mentioned herein are incorporated by reference in their entirety. In case of conflict, the present specification, including definitions, will control. In addition, the materials, methods, and examples are illustrative only and not intended to be limiting. All patents, patent applications and publications referenced herein are incorporated herein by reference in their entireties.

This application incorporates by reference herein the entire contents of International Application No. PCT/US2007/022719, filed on Oct. 26, 2007. The full disclosures of each of the following U.S. patent applications, which are being filed concurrently herewith, are hereby incorporated by reference herein: Attorney Docket Nos. 08995-0062001, 08895-0063001, 08895-0070001, 08895-0073001, 08895-0075001, 08895-0076001, 08895-0085001, 08895-0096001, and 08895-0103001.

Other features and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the following detailed description, and from the claims.

DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is block diagram illustrating conversion of a fiber source into a first and second fibrous material.

FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view of a rotary knife cutter.

FIG. 3 is block diagram illustrating conversion of a fiber source into a first, second and third fibrous material.

FIG. 4 is a block diagram illustrating a treatment sequence for processing feedstock.

FIG. 5 is a perspective, cut-away view of a gamma irradiator housed in a concrete vault.

FIG. 6 is an enlarged perspective view of region R of FIG. 9.

FIG. 7 is a schematic representation of biomass being ionized, and then oxidized or quenched.

FIG. 8 is a scanning electron micrograph of a fibrous material produced from polycoated paper at 25× magnification. The fibrous material was produced on a rotary knife cutter utilizing a screen with ⅛ inch openings.

FIG. 9 is a scanning electron micrograph of a fibrous material produced from bleached Kraft board paper at 25× magnification. The fibrous material was produced on a rotary knife cutter utilizing a screen with ⅛ inch openings.

FIG. 10 is a scanning electron micrograph of a fibrous material produced from bleached Kraft board paper at 25× magnification. The fibrous material was twice sheared on a rotary knife cutter utilizing a screen with 1/16 inch openings during each shearing.

FIG. 11 is a scanning electron micrograph of a fibrous material produced from bleached Kraft board paper at 25× magnification. The fibrous material was thrice sheared on a rotary knife cutter. During the first shearing, a ⅛ inch screen was used; during the second shearing, a 1/16 inch screen was used, and during the third shearing a 1/32 inch screen was used.

FIG. 12 is an infrared spectrum of Kraft board paper sheared on a rotary knife cutter.

FIG. 13 is an infrared spectrum of the Kraft paper of FIG. 12 after irradiation with 100 Mrad of gamma radiation.

FIG. 14 is a 13C-NMR of sample P-100e with a delay time of 1 minute between pulses.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Functionalized carbohydrates having desired types and amounts of functionality, such as carboxylic acid groups, nitrile groups, nitro groups, or nitroso groups, can be prepared using the methods described herein. Such functionalized carbohydrates can be more soluble, easier to utilize by various microorganisms during fermentation or can be more stable over the long term.

Types of Biomass

Generally, any biomass material that includes carbohydrates composed entirely of one or more saccharide units or that include one or more saccharide units can be processed by any of the methods described herein. For example, the biomass material can be cellulosic or lignocellulosic materials, starchy materials, such as kernels of corn, grains of rice or other foods, or materials that are or that include one or more low molecular weight sugars, such as sucrose or cellobiose.

For example, such materials can include paper, paper products, wood, wood-related materials, particle board, grasses, rice hulls, bagasse, cotton, jute, hemp, flax, bamboo, sisal, abaca, straw, corn cobs, rice hulls, coconut hair, algae, seaweed, cotton, synthetic celluloses, or mixtures of any of these.

Fiber sources include cellulosic fiber sources, including paper and paper products (e.g., polycoated paper and Kraft paper), and lignocellulosic fiber sources, including wood, and wood-related materials, e.g., particleboard. Other suitable fiber sources include natural fiber sources, e.g., grasses, rice hulls, bagasse, cotton, jute, hemp, flax, bamboo, sisal, abaca, straw, corn cobs, rice hulls, coconut hair; fiber sources high in α-cellulose content, e.g., cotton; and synthetic fiber sources, e.g., extruded yarn (oriented yarn or un-oriented yarn). Natural or synthetic fiber sources can be obtained from virgin scrap textile materials, e.g., remnants or they can be post consumer waste, e.g., rags. When paper products are used as fiber sources, they can be virgin materials, e.g., scrap virgin materials, or they can be post-consumer waste. Aside from virgin raw materials, post-consumer, industrial and processing waste (e.g., effluent from paper processing) can also be used as fiber sources. Also, the fiber source can be obtained or derived from human (e.g., sewage), animal or plant wastes. Additional fiber sources have been described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,448,307, 6,258,876, 6,207,729, 5,973,035 and 5,952,105.

In some embodiments, the carbohydrate is or includes a material having one or more β-1,4-linkages and having a number average molecular weight between about 3,000 and 50,000. Such a carbohydrate is or includes cellulose (I), which is derived from (β-glucose 1) through condensation of β(1→4)-glycosidic bonds. This linkage contrasts itself with that for α(1→4)-glycosidic bonds present in starch and other carbohydrates.

Starchy materials include starch itself, e.g., corn starch, wheat starch, potato starch or rice starch, a derivative of starch, or a material that includes starch, such as an edible food product or a crop. For example, the starchy material can be arracacha, buckwheat, banana, barley, cassava, kudzu, oca, sago, sorghum, regular household potatoes, sweet potato, taro, yams, or one or more beans, such as favas, lentils or peas. Blends of any one or more starchy materials are also a starchy material. In particular embodiments, the starchy material is derived from corn. Various corn starches and derivatives are described in “Corn Starch,” Corn Refiners Association (11th Edition, 2006).

Biomass materials that include low molecular weight sugars can, e.g., include at least about 0.5 percent by weight of the low molecular sugar, e.g., at least about 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12.5, 25, 35, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90 or even at least about 95 percent by weight of the low molecular weight sugar. In some instances, the biomass is composed substantially of the low molecular weight sugar, e.g., greater than 95 percent by weight, such as 96, 97, 98, 99 or substantially 100 percent by weight of the low molecular weight sugar.

Feedstock Preparation

In some cases, methods of processing begin with a physical preparation of the feedstock, e.g., size reduction of raw feedstock materials, such as by cutting, grinding, shearing or chopping. In some cases, loose feedstock (e.g., recycled paper, starchy materials, or switchgrass) is prepared by shearing or shredding. Screens and/or magnets can be used to remove oversized or undesirable objects such as, for example, rocks or nails from the feed stream.

Feed preparation systems can be configured to produce feed streams with specific characteristics such as, for example, specific maximum sizes, specific length-to-width, or specific surface areas ratios. As a part of feed preparation, the bulk density of feedstocks can be controlled (e.g., increased or decreased).

Size Reduction

In some embodiments, the material to be processed is in the form of a fibrous material that includes fibers provided by shearing a fiber source. For example, the shearing can be performed with a rotary knife cutter.

For example, and by reference to FIG. 1, a fiber source 210 is sheared, e.g., in a rotary knife cutter, to provide a first fibrous material 212. The first fibrous material 212 is passed through a first screen 214 having an average opening size of 1.59 mm or less ( 1/16 inch, 0.0625 inch) to provide a second fibrous material 216. If desired, the fiber source can be cut prior to the shearing, e.g., with a shredder. For example, when a paper is used as the fiber source, the paper can be first cut into strips that are, e.g., ¼- to ½-inch wide, using a shredder, e.g., a counter-rotating screw shredder, such as those manufactured by Munson (Utica, N.Y). As an alternative to shredding, the paper can be reduced in size by cutting to a desired size using a guillotine cutter. For example, the guillotine cutter can be used to cut the paper into sheets that are, e.g., 10 inches wide by 12 inches long.

In some embodiments, the shearing of fiber source and the passing of the resulting first fibrous material through the first screen are performed concurrently. The shearing and the passing can also be performed in a batch-type process.

For example, a rotary knife cutter can be used to concurrently shear the fiber source and screen the first fibrous material. Referring to FIG. 2, a rotary knife cutter 220 includes a hopper 222 that can be loaded with a shredded fiber source 224. Shredded fiber source 224 is sheared between stationary blades 230 and rotating blades 232 to provide a first fibrous material 240. First fibrous material 240 passes through screen 242, and the resulting second fibrous material 244 is captured in bin 250. To aid in the collection of the second fibrous material, the bin can have a pressure below nominal atmospheric pressure, e.g., at least 10 percent below nominal atmospheric pressure, e.g., at least 25 percent below nominal atmospheric pressure, at least 50 percent below nominal atmospheric pressure, or at least 75 percent below nominal atmospheric pressure. In some embodiments, a vacuum source 252 is utilized to maintain the bin below nominal atmospheric pressure.

Shearing can be advantageous for “opening up” and “stressing” the fibrous materials, making the cellulose of the materials more susceptible to chain scission and/or reduction of crystallinity. The open materials can also be more susceptible to oxidation when irradiated in an oxidizing environment. In addition, shearing generally makes a low bulk density material that can be deeply penetrated with a beam of electrons.

The fiber source can be sheared in a dry state, a hydrated state (e.g., having up to ten percent by weight absorbed water), or in a wet state, e.g., having between about 10 percent and about 75 percent by weight water. The fiber source can even be sheared while partially or fully submerged under a liquid, such as water, ethanol, isopropanol.

The fiber source can also be sheared under a gas (such as a stream or atmosphere of gas other than air), e.g., oxygen or nitrogen, or steam.

Other methods of making the fibrous materials include, e.g., stone grinding, mechanical ripping or tearing, pin grinding or air attrition milling.

If desired, the fibrous materials can be separated, e.g., continuously or in batches, into fractions according to their length, width, density, material type, or some combination of these attributes. For example, for forming composites, it is often desirable to have a relatively narrow distribution of fiber lengths.

For example, ferrous materials can be separated from any of the fibrous materials by passing a fibrous material that includes a ferrous material past a magnet, e.g., an electromagnet, and then passing the resulting fibrous material through a series of screens, each screen having different sized apertures.

The fibrous materials can also be separated, e.g., by using a high velocity gas, e.g., air. In such an approach, the fibrous materials are separated by drawing off different fractions, which can be characterized photonically, if desired. Such a separation apparatus is discussed in Lindsey et al, U.S. Pat. No. 6,883,667.

The fibrous materials can be irradiated immediately following their preparation, or they can may be dried, e.g., at approximately 105° C. for 4-18 hours, so that the moisture content is, e.g., less than about 0.5% before use.

If desired, lignin can be removed from any of the fibrous materials that include lignin. Also, to aid in the breakdown of the materials that include the cellulose, the material can be treated prior to irradiation with heat, a chemical (e.g., mineral acid, base or a strong oxidizer such as sodium hypochlorite) and/or an enzyme.

In some embodiments, the average opening size of the first screen is less than 0.79 mm ( 1/32 inch, 0.03125 inch), e.g., less than 0.51 mm ( 1/50 inch, 0.02000 inch), less than 0.40 mm ( 1/64 inch, 0.015625 inch), less than 0.23 mm (0.009 inch), less than 0.20 mm ( 1/128 inch, 0.0078125 inch), less than 0.18 mm (0.007 inch), less than 0.13 mm (0.005 inch), or even less than less than 0.10 mm ( 1/256 inch, 0.00390625 inch). The screen is prepared by interweaving monofilaments having an appropriate diameter to give the desired opening size. For example, the monofilaments can be made of a metal, e.g., stainless steel. As the opening sizes get smaller, structural demands on the monofilaments may become greater. For example, for opening sizes less than 0.40 mm, it can be advantageous to make the screens from monofilaments made from a material other than stainless steel, e.g., titanium, titanium alloys, amorphous metals, nickel, tungsten, rhodium, rhenium, ceramics, or glass. In some embodiments, the screen is made from a plate, e.g. a metal plate, having apertures, e.g., cut into the plate using a laser. In some embodiments, the open area of the mesh is less than 52%, e.g., less than 41%, less than 36%, less than 31%, less than 30%.

In some embodiments, the second fibrous is sheared and passed through the first screen, or a different sized screen. In some embodiments, the second fibrous material is passed through a second screen having an average opening size equal to or less than that of the first screen.

Referring to FIG. 3, a third fibrous material 220 can be prepared from the second fibrous material 216 by shearing the second fibrous material 216 and passing the resulting material through a second screen 222 having an average opening size less than the first screen 214.

Generally, the fibers of the fibrous materials can have a relatively large average length-to-diameter ratio (e.g., greater than 20-to-1), even if they have been sheared more than once. In addition, the fibers of the fibrous materials described herein may have a relatively narrow length and/or length-to-diameter ratio distribution.

As used herein, average fiber widths (diameters) are those determined optically by randomly selecting approximately 5,000 fibers. Average fiber lengths are corrected length-weighted lengths. BET (Brunauer, Emmet and Teller) surface areas are multi-point surface areas, and porosities are those determined by mercury porosimetry.

The average length-to-diameter ratio of the second fibrous material 14 can be, e.g., greater than 8/1, e.g., greater than 10/1, greater than 15/1, greater than 20/1, greater than 25/1, or greater than 50/1. An average length of the second fibrous material 14 can be, e.g., between about 0.5 mm and 2.5 mm, e.g., between about 0.75 mm and 1.0 mm, and an average width (i.e., diameter) of the second fibrous material 14 can be, e.g., between about 5 μm and 50 μm, e.g., between about 10 μm and 30 μm.

In some embodiments, a standard deviation of the length of the second fibrous material 14 is less than 60 percent of an average length of the second fibrous material 14, e.g., less than 50 percent of the average length, less than 40 percent of the average length, less than 25 percent of the average length, less than 10 percent of the average length, less than 5 percent of the average length, or even less than 1 percent of the average length.

In some embodiments, a BET surface area of the second fibrous material is greater than 0.1 m2/g, e.g., greater than 0.25 m2/g, greater than 0.5 m2/g, greater than 1.0 m2/g, greater than 1.5 m2/g, greater than 1.75 m2/g, greater than 5.0 m2/g, greater than 10 m2/g, greater than 25 m2/g, greater than 35 m2/g, greater than 50 m2/g, greater than 60 m2/g, greater than 75 m2/g, greater than 100 m2/g, greater than 150 m2/g, greater than 200 m2/g, or even greater than 250 m2/g. A porosity of the second fibrous material 14 can be, e.g., greater than 20 percent, greater than 25 percent, greater than 35 percent, greater than 50 percent, greater than 60 percent, greater than 70 percent, e.g., greater than 80 percent, greater than 85 percent, greater than 90 percent, greater than 92 percent, greater than 94 percent, greater than 95 percent, greater than 97.5 percent, greater than 99 percent, or even greater than 99.5 percent.

In some embodiments, a ratio of the average length-to-diameter ratio of the first fibrous material to the average length-to-diameter ratio of the second fibrous material is, e.g., less than 1.5, e.g., less than 1.4, less than 1.25, less than 1.1, less than 1.075, less than 1.05, less than 1.025, or even substantially equal to 1.

In particular embodiments, the second fibrous material is sheared again and the resulting fibrous material passed through a second screen having an average opening size less than the first screen to provide a third fibrous material. In such instances, a ratio of the average length-to-diameter ratio of the second fibrous material to the average length-to-diameter ratio of the third fibrous material can be, e.g., less than 1.5, e.g., less than 1.4, less than 1.25, or even less than 1.1.

In some embodiments, the third fibrous material is passed through a third screen to produce a fourth fibrous material. The fourth fibrous material can be, e.g., passed through a fourth screen to produce a fifth material. Similar screening processes can be repeated as many times as desired to produce the desired fibrous material having the desired properties.

Radiation Treatment

One or more irradiation processing sequences can be used to process raw feedstock from a wide variety of different sources to extract useful substances from the feedstock, and to provide partially degraded organic material which functions as input to further processing steps and/or sequences. Irradiation can reduce the molecular weight and/or crystallinity of feedstock. In some embodiments, energy deposited in a material that releases an electron from its atomic orbital is used to irradiate the materials. The radiation may be provided by 1) heavy charged particles, such as alpha particles or protons, 2) electrons, produced, for example, in beta decay or electron beam accelerators, or 3) electromagnetic radiation, for example, gamma rays, x rays, or ultraviolet rays. In one approach, radiation produced by radioactive substances can be used to irradiate the feedstock. In some embodiments, any combination in any order or concurrently of (1) through (3) may be utilized. In another approach, electromagnetic radiation (e.g., produced using electron beam emitters) can be used to irradiate the feedstock. The doses applied depend on the desired effect and the particular feedstock. For example, high doses of radiation can break chemical bonds within feedstock components and low doses of radiation can increase chemical bonding (e.g., cross-linking) within feedstock components. In some instances when chain scission is desirable and/or polymer chain functionalization is desirable, particles heavier than electrons, such as protons, helium nuclei, argon ions, silicon ions, neon ions, carbon ions, phoshorus ions, oxygen ions or nitrogen ions can be utilized. When ring-opening chain scission is desired, positively charged particles can be utilized for their Lewis acid properties for enhanced ring-opening chain scission. For example, when oxygen-containing functional groups are desired, irradiation in the presence of oxygen or even irradiation with oxygen ions can be performed. For example, when nitrogen-containing functional groups are desirable, irradiation in the presence of nitrogen or even irradiation with nitrogen ions can be performed.

Referring to FIG. 4, in one method, a first material 2 that is or includes cellulose having a first number average molecular weight (TMN1) is irradiated in an oxidizing environment, e.g., by treatment in air with ionizing radiation (e.g., in the form of gamma radiation, X-ray radiation, 100 nm to 280 nm ultraviolet (UV) light, a beam of electrons or other charged particles) to provide a second material 3 that includes cellulose having a second number average molecular weight (TMN2) lower than the first number average molecular weight. The second material (or the first and second material) can be combined with a microorganism (e.g., a bacterium or a yeast) that can utilize the second and/or first material to produce a fuel 5 that is or includes hydrogen, an alcohol (e.g., ethanol or butanol, such as n-, sec- or t-butanol), an organic acid, a hydrocarbon or mixtures of any of these.

Since the second material 3 has cellulose having a reduced molecular weight relative to the first material, and in some instances, a reduced crystallinity as well, the second material is generally more dispersible, swellable and/or soluble in a solution containing a microorganism. These properties make the second material 3 more susceptible to chemical, enzymatic and/or biological attack relative to the first material 2, which can greatly improve the production rate and/or production level of a desired product, e.g., ethanol. Radiation can also sterilize the materials.

In some embodiments, the second number average molecular weight (MN2) is lower than the first number average molecular weight (TMN1) by more than about 10 percent, e.g., 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 50 percent, 60 percent, or even more than about 75 percent.

In some instances, the second material has cellulose that has as crystallinity (TC2) that is lower than the crystallinity (TC1) of the cellulose of the first material. For example, (TC2) can be lower than (TC1) by more than about 10 percent, e.g., 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, or even more than about 50 percent.

In some embodiments, the starting crystallinity index (prior to irradiation) is from about 40 to about 87.5 percent, e.g., from about 50 to about 75 percent or from about 60 to about 70 percent, and the crystallinity index after irradiation is from about 10 to about 50 percent, e.g., from about 15 to about 45 percent or from about 20 to about 40 percent. However, in some embodiments, e.g., after extensive irradiation, it is possible to have a crystallinity index of lower than 5 percent. In some embodiments, the material after irradiation is substantially amorphous.

In some embodiments, the starting number average molecular weight (prior to irradiation) is from about 200,000 to about 3,200,000, e.g., from about 250,000 to about 1,000,000 or from about 250,000 to about 700,000, and the number average molecular weight after irradiation is from about 50,000 to about 200,000, e.g., from about 60,000 to about 150,000 or from about 70,000 to about 125,000. However, in some embodiments, e.g., after extensive irradiation, it is possible to have a number average molecular weight of less than about 10,000 or even less than about 5,000.

In some embodiments, the second material can have a level of oxidation (TO2) that is higher than the level of oxidation (TO1) of the first material. A higher level of oxidation of the material can aid in its dispersibility, swellability and/or solubility, further enhancing the materials susceptibility to chemical, enzymatic or biological attack.

Ionizing Radiation

Each form of radiation ionizes the biomass via particular interactions, as determined by the energy of the radiation. Heavy charged particles primarily ionize matter via Coulomb scattering; furthermore, these interactions produce energetic electrons that may further ionize matter. Alpha particles are identical to the nucleus of a helium atom and are produced by the alpha decay of various radioactive nuclei, such as isotopes of bismuth, polonium, astatine, radon, francium, radium, several actinides, such as actinium, thorium, uranium, neptunium, curium, californium, americium, and plutonium.

When particles are utilized, they can be neutral (uncharged), positively charged or negatively charged. When charged, the charged particles can bear a single positive or negative charge, or multiple charges, e.g., one, two, three or even four or more charges. In instances in which chain scission is desired, positively charged particles may be desirable, in part, due to their acidic nature. When particles are utilized, the particles can have the mass of a resting electron, or greater, e.g., 500, 1000, 1500, or 2000 or more times the mass of a resting electron. For example, the particles can have a mass of from about 1 atomic unit to about 150 atomic units, e.g., from about 1 atomic unit to about 50 atomic units, or from about 1 to about 25, e.g., 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 12 or 15 amu. Accelerators used to accelerate the particles can be electrostatic DC, electrodynamic DC, RF linear, magnetic induction linear or continuous wave. For example, cyclotron type accelerators are available from IBA, Belgium, such as the Rhodotron® system, while DC type accelerators are available from RDI, now IBA Industrial, such as the Dynamitron®. Ions and ion accelerators are discussed in Introductory Nuclear Physics, Kenneth S. Krane, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. (1988), Krsto Prelec, FIZIKA B 6 (1997) 4, 177-206, Chu, William T., “Overview of Light-Ion Beam Therapy”, Columbus-Ohio, ICRU-IAEA Meeting, 18-20 Mar. 2006, Iwata, Y. et al., “Alternating-Phase-Focused IH-DTL for Heavy-Ion Medical Accelerators”, Proceedings of EPAC 2006, Edinburgh, Scotland, and Leitner, C. M. et al., “Status of the Superconducting ECR Ion Source Venus”, Proceedings of EPAC 2000, Vienna. Typically, generators are housed in a vault, e.g., of lead or concrete.

Electrons interact via Coulomb scattering and bremssthrahlung radiation produced by changes in the velocity of electrons. Electrons may be produced by radioactive nuclei that undergo beta decay, such as isotopes of iodine, cesium, technetium, and iridium. Alternatively, an electron gun can be used as an electron source via thermionic emission.

Electromagnetic radiation interacts via three processes: photoelectric absorption, Compton scattering, and pair production. The dominating interaction is determined by the energy of the incident radiation and the atomic number of the material. The summation of interactions contributing to the absorbed radiation in cellulosic material can be expressed by the mass absorption coefficient (see “Ionization Radiation” in PCT/US2007/022719).

Electromagnetic radiation is subclassified as gamma rays, x rays, ultraviolet rays, infrared rays, microwaves, or radiowaves, depending on its wavelength.

For example, gamma radiation can be employed to irradiate the materials. Referring to FIGS. 5 and 6 (an enlarged view of region R), a gamma irradiator 10 includes gamma radiation sources 408, e.g., 60Co pellets, a working table 14 for holding the materials to be irradiated and storage 16, e.g., made of a plurality iron plates, all of which are housed in a concrete containment chamber (vault) 20 that includes a maze entranceway 22 beyond a lead-lined door 26. Storage 16 includes a plurality of channels 30, e.g., sixteen or more channels, allowing the gamma radiation sources to pass through storage on their way proximate the working table.

In operation, the sample to be irradiated is placed on a working table. The irradiator is configured to deliver the desired dose rate and monitoring equipment is connected to an experimental block 31. The operator then leaves the containment chamber, passing through the maze entranceway and through the lead-lined door. The operator mans a control panel 32, instructing a computer 33 to lift the radiation sources 12 into working position using cylinder 36 attached to a hydraulic pump 40.

Gamma radiation has the advantage of a significant penetration depth into a variety of materials in the sample. Sources of gamma rays include radioactive nuclei, such as isotopes of cobalt, calcium, technicium, chromium, gallium, indium, iodine, iron, krypton, samarium, selenium, sodium, thalium, and xenon.

Sources of x rays include electron beam collision with metal targets, such as tungsten or molybdenum or alloys, or compact light sources, such as those produced commercially by Lyncean.

Sources for ultraviolet radiation include deuterium or cadmium lamps.

Sources for infrared radiation include sapphire, zinc, or selenide window ceramic lamps.

Sources for microwaves include klystrons, Slevin type RF sources, or atom beam sources that employ hydrogen, oxygen, or nitrogen gases.

Electron Beam

In some embodiments, a beam of electrons is used as the radiation source. A beam of electrons has the advantages of high dose rates (e.g., 1, 5, or even 10 Mrad per second), high throughput, less containment, and less confinement equipment. Electrons can also be more efficient at causing chain scission. In addition, electrons having energies of 4-10 MeV can have a penetration depth of 5 to 30 mm or more, such as 40 mm. In low bulk density materials, e.g., materials having a bulk density of less than about 0.35 grams per cubic centimeter, penetration depths can be even higher. For example, with a 5 MeV electron gun, penetration through a low bulk density material can be 5 to 6 inches or more.

Electron beams can be generated, e.g., by electrostatic generators, cascade generators, transformer generators, low energy accelerators with a scanning system, low energy accelerators with a linear cathode, linear accelerators, and pulsed accelerators. Electrons as an ionizing radiation source can be useful, e.g., for relatively thin piles of materials, e.g., less than 0.5 inch, e.g., less than 0.4 inch, 0.3 inch, 0.2 inch, or less than 0.1 inch. In some embodiments, the energy of each electron of the electron beam is from about 0.3 MeV to about 2.0 MeV (million electron volts), e.g., from about 0.5 MeV to about 1.5 MeV, or from about 0.7 MeV to about 1.25 MeV. In other embodiments, the energy of each electron is at least about 3 MeV, e.g., at least about 4, 5 or 6 MeV.

Electron beam irradiation devices may be procured commercially from Ion Beam Applications, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium or the Titan Corporation, San Diego, Calif. Typical electron energies can be 1 MeV, 2 MeV, 4.5 MeV, 7.5 MeV, or 10 MeV. Typical electron beam irradiation device power can be 1 kW, 5 kW, 10 kW, 20 kW, 50 kW, 100 kW, 250 kW, or 500 kW. Typical doses may take values of 1 kGy, 5 kGy, 10 kGy, 20 kGy, 50 kGy, 100 kGy, or 200 kGy.

Irradiating Devices

Various irradiating devices may be used in the methods disclosed herein, including field ionization sources, electrostatic ion separators, field ionization generators, thermionic emission sources, microwave discharge ion sources, recirculating or static accelerators, dynamic linear accelerators, van de Graaff accelerators, and folded tandem accelerators. Such devices are disclosed, for example, in U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 61/073,665, the complete disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference.

Electromagnetic Radiation

In embodiments in which the irradiating is performed with electromagnetic radiation, the electromagnetic radiation can have, e.g., energy per photon (in electron volts) of greater than 102 eV, e.g., greater than 103, 104, 105, 106, or even greater than 107 eV. In some embodiments, the electromagnetic radiation has energy per photon of between 104 and 107, e.g., between 105 and 106 eV. The electromagnetic radiation can have a frequency of, e.g., greater than 1016 Hz, greater than 1017 Hz, 1018, 1019, 1020, or even greater than 1021 Hz. In some embodiments, the electromagnetic radiation has a frequency of between 1018 and 1022 Hz, e.g., between 1019 to 1021 Hz.

Doses

In some embodiments, the irradiating (with any radiation source or a combination of sources) is performed until the material receives a dose of at least 0.25 Mrad, e.g., at least 1.0 Mrad, at least 2.5 Mrad, at least 5.0 Mrad, at least 10.0 Mrad, at least about 25, at least about 50, at least about 70, or at least about 80 MRad. In some embodiments, the irradiating is performed until the material receives a dose of between 1.0 Mrad and 50 Mrad, e.g., between 1.5 Mrad and 40 Mrad.

In some embodiments, the irradiating is performed at a dose rate of between 5.0 and 1500.0 kilorads/hour, e.g., between 10.0 and 750.0 kilorads/hour or between 50.0 and 350.0 kilorads/hours.

In some embodiments, two or more radiation sources are used, such as two or more ionizing radiations. For example, samples can be treated, in any order, with a beam of electrons, followed by gamma radiation and UV light having wavelengths from about 100 nm to about 280 nm. In some embodiments, samples are treated with three ionizing radiation sources, such as a beam of electrons, gamma radiation, and energetic UV light.

Quenching and Controlled Functionalization of Biomass

After treatment with one or more ionizing radiations, such as photonic radiation (e.g., X-rays or gamma-rays), e-beam radiation or particles heavier than electrons that are positively or negatively charged (e.g., protons or carbon ions), any of the carbohydrate-containing materials or mixtures described herein become ionized; that is, they include radicals at levels that are detectable with an electron spin resonance spectrometer. The current practical limit of detection of the radicals is about 1014 spins at room temperature. After ionization, any biomass material that has been ionized can be quenched to reduce the level of radicals in the ionized biomass, e.g., such that the radicals are no longer detectable with the electron spin resonance spectrometer. For example, the radicals can be quenched by the application of a sufficient pressure to the biomass and/or utilizing a fluid in contact with the ionized biomass, such as a gas or liquid, that reacts with (quenches) the radicals. The use of a gas or liquid to at least aid in the quenching of the radicals also allows the operator to control functionalization of the ionized biomass with a desired amount and kinds of functional groups, such as carboxylic acid groups, enol groups, aldehyde groups, nitro groups, nitrile groups, amino groups, alkyl amino groups, alkyl groups, chloroalkyl groups or chlorofluoroalkyl groups. In some instances, such quenching can improve the stability of some of the ionized biomass materials. For example, quenching can improve the resistance of the biomass to oxidation. Functionalization can also improve the solubility of any biomass described herein, can improve its thermal stability, and can improve material utilization by various microorganisms. For example, the functional groups imparted to the biomass material by quenching can act as receptor sites for attachment by microorganisms, e.g., to enhance cellulose hydrolysis by various microorganisms.

FIG. 7 illustrates changing a molecular and/or a supramolecular structure of a biomass feedstock by pretreating the biomass feedstock with ionizing radiation, such as with electrons or ions of sufficient energy to ionize the biomass feedstock, to provide a first level of radicals. As shown in FIG. 7, if the ionized biomass remains in the atmosphere, it will be oxidized, such as to an extent that carboxylic acid groups are generated by reacting with the atmospheric oxygen in air. In some instances with some materials, such oxidation is desired because it can aid in the further breakdown in molecular weight of the carbohydrate-containing biomass, and the oxidation groups, e.g., carboxylic acid groups can be helpful for solubility and microorganism utilization in some instances. However, since the radicals can “live” for some time after irradiation, e.g., longer than 1 day, 5 days, 30 days, 3 months, 6 months or even longer than 1 year, material properties can continue to change over time, which in some instances can be undesirable. Detecting radicals in irradiated samples by electron spin resonance spectroscopy and radical lifetimes in such samples is discussed in Bartolotta et al., Physics in Medicine and Biology, 46 (2001), 461-471 and in Bartolotta et al., Radiation Protection Dosimetry, Vol. 84, Nos. 1-4, pp. 293-296 (1999). As shown in FIG. 7, the ionized biomass can be quenched to functionalize and/or to stabilize the ionized biomass. At any point, e.g., when the material is “alive”, “partially alive” or fully quenched, the pretreated biomass can be converted into a product.

In some embodiments, the quenching includes an application of pressure to the biomass, such as by mechanically deforming the biomass, e.g., directly mechanically compressing the biomass in one, two, or three dimensions, or applying pressure to a fluid in which the biomass is immersed, e.g., isostatic pressing. In such instances, the deformation of the material itself brings radicals, which are often trapped in crystalline domains, in sufficient proximity so that the radicals can recombine, or react with another group. In some instances, the pressure is applied together with the application of heat, such as a sufficient quantity of heat to elevate the temperature of the biomass to above a melting point or softening point of a component of the biomass, such as lignin, cellulose or hemicellulose. Heat can improve molecular mobility in the polymeric material, which can aid in the quenching of the radicals. When pressure is utilized to quench, the pressure can be greater than about 1000 psi, such as greater than about 1250 psi, 1450 psi, 3625 psi, 5075 psi, 7250 psi, 10000 psi or even greater than 15000 psi.

In some embodiments, quenching includes contacting the biomass with a fluid, such as a liquid or gas, e.g., a gas capable of reacting with the radicals, such as acetylene or a mixture of acetylene in nitrogen, ethylene, chlorinated ethylenes or chlorofluoroethylenes, propylene or mixtures of these gases. In other particular embodiments, quenching includes contacting the biomass with a liquid, e.g., a liquid soluble in, or at least capable of penetrating into the biomass and reacting with the radicals, such as a diene, such as 1,5-cyclooctadiene. In some specific embodiments, the quenching includes contacting the biomass with an antioxidant, such as Vitamin E. If desired, the biomass feedstock can include an antioxidant dispersed therein, and the quenching can come from contacting the antioxidant dispersed in the biomass feedstock with the radicals.

Other methods for quenching are possible. For example, any method for quenching radicals in polymeric materials described in Muratoglu et al., U.S. Patent Application Publication No. 2008/0067724 and Muratoglu et al., U.S. Pat. No. 7,166,650 can be utilized for quenching any ionized biomass material described herein. Furthermore any quenching agent (described as a “sensitizing agent” in the above-noted Muratoglu disclosures) and/or any antioxidant described in either Muratoglu reference can be utilized to quench any ionized biomass material.

Functionalization can be enhanced by utilizing heavy charged ions, such as any of the heavier ions described herein. For example, if it is desired to enhance oxidation, charged oxygen ions can be utilized for the irradiation. If nitrogen functional groups are desired, nitrogen ions or ions that includes nitrogen can be utilized. Likewise, if sulfur or phosphorus groups are desired, sulfur or phosphorus ions can be used in the irradiation.

In some embodiments, from about 1 out of every 2 to about 1 out of every 250 saccharide units includes a carboxylic acid group, or an ester or salt thereof; whereas the native or unprocessed base material can have less than 1 carboxylic acid group per 300 saccharide units. In other embodiments, from about 1 out of every 5 to about 1 out of every 250 saccharide units, e.g., 1 out of every 8 to about 1 out of every 100 units or from 1 out of 10 to about 1 out of 50 units includes a carboxylic acid group, or an ester or salt thereof.

In some embodiments, from about 1 out of every 5 to about 1 out of every 1500 saccharide units includes a nitrile group, a nitroso groups or a nitro group. In other embodiments, from about 1 out of every 10 to about 1 out of every 1000 saccharide units, e.g., 1 out of every 25 to about 1 out of every 1000 units or from 1 out of 35 to about 1 out of 750 units includes a nitrile group, a nitroso groups or a nitro group.

In some embodiments, the saccharide units include mixtures of carboxylic acid groups, nitrile groups, nitroso groups and nitro groups. Mixed groups can enhance the solubility of a cellulosic or lignocellulosic material.

Particle Beam Exposure in Fluids

In some cases, the cellulosic or lignocellulosic materials can be exposed to a particle beam in the presence of one or more additional fluids (e.g., gases and/or liquids). Exposure of a material to a particle beam in the presence of one or more additional fluids can increase the efficiency of the treatment.

In some embodiments, the material is exposed to a particle beam in the presence of a fluid such as air. Particles accelerated in any one or more of the types of accelerators disclosed herein (or another type of accelerator) are coupled out of the accelerator via an output port (e.g., a thin membrane such as a metal foil), pass through a volume of space occupied by the fluid, and are then incident on the material. In addition to directly treating the material, some of the particles generate additional chemical species by interacting with fluid particles (e.g., ions and/or radicals generated from various constituents of air, such as ozone and oxides of nitrogen). These generated chemical species can also interact with the material, and can act as initiators for a variety of different chemical bond-breaking reactions in the material. For example, any oxidant produced can oxidize the material, which can result in molecular weight reduction.

In certain embodiments, additional fluids can be selectively introduced into the path of a particle beam before the beam is incident on the material. As discussed above, reactions between the particles of the beam and the particles of the introduced fluids can generate additional chemical species, which react with the material and can assist in functionalizing the material, and/or otherwise selectively altering certain properties of the material. The one or more additional fluids can be directed into the path of the beam from a supply tube, for example. The direction and flow rate of the fluid(s) that is/are introduced can be selected according to a desired exposure rate and/or direction to control the efficiency of the overall treatment, including effects that result from both particle-based treatment and effects that are due to the interaction of dynamically generated species from the introduced fluid with the material. In addition to air, exemplary fluids that can be introduced into the ion beam include oxygen, nitrogen, one or more noble gases, one or more halogens, and hydrogen.

Process Water

In the processes disclosed herein, whenever water is used in any process, it may be grey water, e.g., municipal grey water, or black water. In some embodiments, the grey or black water is sterilized prior to use. Sterilization may be accomplished by any desired technique, for example by irradiation, steam, or chemical sterilization.

Examples

The following Examples are intended to illustrate, and do not limit the teachings of this disclosure.

Example 1 Preparation of Fibrous Material from Polycoated Paper

A 1500 pound skid of virgin, half-gallon juice cartons made of un-printed polycoated white Kraft board having a bulk density of 20 lb/ft3 was obtained from International Paper. Each carton was folded flat, and then fed into a 3 hp Flinch Baugh shredder at a rate of approximately 15 to 20 pounds per hour. The shredder was equipped with two 12 inch rotary blades, two fixed blades and a 0.30 inch discharge screen. The gap between the rotary and fixed blades was adjusted to 0.10 inch. The output from the shredder resembled confetti having a width of between 0.1 inch and 0.5 inch, a length of between 0.25 inch and 1 inch and a thickness equivalent to that of the starting material (about 0.075 inch).

The confetti-like material was fed to a Munson rotary knife cutter, Model SC30. Model SC30 is equipped with four rotary blades, four fixed blades, and a discharge screen having ⅛ inch openings. The gap between the rotary and fixed blades was set to approximately 0.020 inch. The rotary knife cutter sheared the confetti-like pieces across the knife-edges, tearing the pieces apart and releasing a fibrous material at a rate of about one pound per hour. The fibrous material had a BET surface area of 0.9748 m2/g±0.0167 m2/g, a porosity of 89.0437 percent and a bulk density (@0.53 psia) of 0.1260 g/mL. An average length of the fibers was 1.141 mm and an average width of the fibers was 0.027 mm, giving an average L/D of 42:1. A scanning electron micrograph of the fibrous material is shown in FIG. 8 at 25× magnification.

Example 2 Preparation of Fibrous Material from Bleached Kraft Board

A 1500 pound skid of virgin bleached white Kraft board having a bulk density of 30 lb/ft3 was obtained from International Paper. The material was folded flat, and then fed into a 3 hp Flinch Baugh shredder at a rate of approximately 15 to 20 pounds per hour. The shredder was equipped with two 12 inch rotary blades, two fixed blades and a 0.30 inch discharge screen. The gap between the rotary and fixed blades was adjusted to 0.10 inch. The output from the shredder resembled confetti having a width of between 0.1 inch and 0.5 inch, a length of between 0.25 inch and 1 inch and a thickness equivalent to that of the starting material (about 0.075 inch). The confetti-like material was fed to a Munson rotary knife cutter, Model SC30. The discharge screen had ⅛ inch openings. The gap between the rotary and fixed blades was set to approximately 0.020 inch. The rotary knife cutter sheared the confetti-like pieces, releasing a fibrous material at a rate of about one pound per hour. The fibrous material had a BET surface area of 1.1316 m2/g±0.0103 m2/g, a porosity of 88.3285 percent and a bulk density (@0.53 psia) of 0.1497 g/mL. An average length of the fibers was 1.063 mm and an average width of the fibers was 0.0245 mm, giving an average L/D of 43:1. A scanning electron micrographs of the fibrous material is shown in FIG. 9 at 25× magnification.

Example 3 Preparation of Twice Sheared Fibrous Material from Bleached Kraft Board

A 1500 pound skid of virgin bleached white Kraft board having a bulk density of 30 lb/ft3 was obtained from International Paper. The material was folded flat, and then fed into a 3 hp Flinch Baugh shredder at a rate of approximately 15 to 20 pounds per hour. The shredder was equipped with two 12 inch rotary blades, two fixed blades and a 0.30 inch discharge screen. The gap between the rotary and fixed blades was adjusted to 0.10 inch. The output from the shredder resembled confetti (as above). The confetti-like material was fed to a Munson rotary knife cutter, Model SC30. The discharge screen had 1/16 inch openings. The gap between the rotary and fixed blades was set to approximately 0.020 inch. The rotary knife cutter the confetti-like pieces, releasing a fibrous material at a rate of about one pound per hour. The material resulting from the first shearing was fed back into the same setup described above and sheared again. The resulting fibrous material had a BET surface area of 1.4408 m2/g±0.0156 m2/g, a porosity of 90.8998 percent and a bulk density (@0.53 psia) of 0.1298 g/mL. An average length of the fibers was 0.891 mm and an average width of the fibers was 0.026 mm, giving an average L/D of 34:1. A scanning electron micrograph of the fibrous material is shown in FIG. 10 at 25× magnification.

Example 4 Preparation of Thrice Sheared Fibrous Material from Bleached Kraft Board

A 1500 pound skid of virgin bleached white Kraft board having a bulk density of 30 lb/ft3 was obtained from International Paper. The material was folded flat, and then fed into a 3 hp Flinch Baugh shredder at a rate of approximately 15 to 20 pounds per hour. The shredder was equipped with two 12 inch rotary blades, two fixed blades and a 0.30 inch discharge screen. The gap between the rotary and fixed blades was adjusted to 0.10 inch. The output from the shredder resembled confetti (as above). The confetti-like material was fed to a Munson rotary knife cutter, Model SC30. The discharge screen had ⅛ inch openings. The gap between the rotary and fixed blades was set to approximately 0.020 inch. The rotary knife cutter sheared the confetti-like pieces across the knife-edges. The material resulting from the first shearing was fed back into the same setup and the screen was replaced with a 1/16 inch screen. This material was sheared. The material resulting from the second shearing was fed back into the same setup and the screen was replaced with a 1/32 inch screen. This material was sheared. The resulting fibrous material had a BET surface area of 1.6897 m2/g±0.0155 m2/g, a porosity of 87.7163 percent and a bulk density (@0.53 psia) of 0.1448 g/mL. An average length of the fibers was 0.824 mm and an average width of the fibers was 0.0262 mm, giving an average L/D of 32:1. A scanning electron micrograph of the fibrous material is shown in FIG. 11 at 25× magnification.

Example 5 Gamma and Electron Beam Processing

Sample materials presented in the following tables include Kraft paper (P), wheat straw (WS), alfalfa (A), and switchgrass (SG). Samples were treated with electron beam using a vaulted Rhodotron® TT200 continuous wave accelerator delivering 5 MeV electrons at 80 kW of output power. Table 1 describes the parameters used. Table 2 reports the nominal dose used for the Sample ID (in MRad) and the corresponding dose delivered to the sample (in kgy).

TABLE 1
Rhodotron ® TT 200 Parameters
Beam
Beam Produced: Accelerated electrons
Beam energy: Nominal (fixed): 5 MeV (+0 keV-250 keV
Energy dispersion at 10 Mev: Full width half maximum (FWHM) 300 keV
Beam power at 10 MeV: Guaranteed Operating Range 1 to 80 kW
Power Consumption
Stand-by condition (vacuum and cooling ON):  <15 kW
At 50 kW beam power: <210 kW
At 80 kW beam power: <260 kW
RF System
Frequency: 107.5 ± 1 MHz
Tetrode type: Thomson TH781
Scanning Horn
Nominal Scanning Length (measured at 25-35 120 cm
cm from window):
Scanning Range: From 30% to 100% of Nominal Scanning Length
Nominal Scanning Frequency (at max. 100 Hz ± 5%
scanning length):
Scanning Uniformity (across 90% of Nominal ±5%
Scanning Length)

TABLE 2
Dosages Delivered to Sample Using E-Beam
Total Dosage (MRad)
(Number Associated with Sample ID Delivered Dose (kgy)1
1 9.9
3 29.0
5 50.4
7 69.2
10 100.0
15 150.3
20 198.3
30 330.9
50 529.0
70 695.9
100 993.6
1For example, 9.9 kgy was delivered in 11 seconds at a beam current of 5 mA and a line speed of 12.9 feet/minute. Cool time between treatments was around 2 minutes.

The number “132” of the Sample ID refers to the particle size of the material after shearing through a 1/32 inch screen. The number after the dash refers to the dosage of radiation (MRad). For example, a sample ID “P132-10” refers to Kraft paper that has been sheared to a particle size of 132 mesh and has been gamma irradiated with 10 MRad.

For samples that were irradiated with e-beam, the number following the dash refers to the amount of energy delivered to the sample. For example, a sample ID “P-100e” refers to Kraft paper that has been delivered a dose of energy of about 100 MRad or about 1000 kgy (Table 2).

TABLE 3
Peak Average Molecular Weight of Gamma Irradiated Kraft Paper
Dosage1 Average
Sample Source Sample ID (MRad) MW ± Std Dev.
Kraft Paper P132 0 32853 ± 10006
P132-10 10  61398 ± 2468**
P132-100 100 8444 ± 580 
**Low doses of radiation appear to increase the molecular weight of some materials
1Dosage Rate = 1 MRad/hour

TABLE 4
Peak Average Molecular Weight of Irradiated
Kraft Paper with E-Beam
Dosage Average
Sample Source Sample ID (MRad) MW ± Std Dev.
Kraft Paper P-1e 1 63489 ± 595
P-5e 5 56587 ± 536
P-10e 10 53610 ± 327
P-30e 30 38231 ± 124
P-70e 70 12011 ± 158
P-100e 100 9770 ± 2 

TABLE 5
Peak Average Molecular Weight of Gamma Irradiated Materials
Dosage1 Average
Sample ID Peak # (MRad) MW ± Std Dev.
WS132 1  0 1407411 ± 175191
2 39145 ± 3425
3 2886 ± 177
WS132-10* 1  10 26040 ± 3240
WS132-100* 1 100 23620 ± 453 
A132 1  0 1604886 ± 151701
2 37525 ± 3751
3 2853 ± 490
A132-10* 1  10 50853 ± 1665
2 2461 ± 17 
A132-100* 1 100 38291 ± 2235
2 2487 ± 15 
SG132 1  0 1557360 ± 83693 
2 42594 ± 4414
3 3268 ± 249
SG132-10* 1  10 60888 ± 9131
SG132-100* 1 100 22345 ± 3797
*Peaks coalesce after treatment
**Low doses of radiation appear to increase the molecular weight of some materials
1Dosage Rate = 1 MRad/hour

TABLE 6
Peak Average Molecular Weight of Irradiated Material with E-Beam
Average
Sample ID Peak # Dosage MW ± STD DEV.
A-1e 1 1 1004783 ± 97518
2 34499 ± 482
3 2235 ± 1 
A-5e 1 5 38245 ± 346
2 2286 ± 35
A-10e 1 10 44326 ± 33 
2 2333 ± 18
A-30e 1 30 47366 ± 583
2 2377 ± 7 
A-50e 1 50 32761 ± 168
2 2435 ± 6 
G-1e 1 1  447362 ± 38817
2 32165 ± 779
3 3004 ± 25
G-5e 1 5  62167 ± 6418
2 2444 ± 33
G-10e 1 10  72636 ± 4075
2 3065 ± 34
G-30e 1 30 17159 ± 390
G-50e 1 50 18960 ± 142

Gel Permeation Chromatography (GPC) is used to determine the molecular weight distribution of polymers. During GPC analysis, a solution of the polymer sample is passed through a column packed with a porous gel trapping small molecules. The sample is separated based on molecular size with larger molecules eluting sooner than smaller molecules. The retention time of each component is most often detected by refractive index (RI), evaporative light scattering (ELS), or ultraviolet (UV) and compared to a calibration curve. The resulting data is then used to calculate the molecular weight distribution for the sample.

A distribution of molecular weights rather than a unique molecular weight is used to characterize synthetic polymers. To characterize this distribution, statistical averages are utilized. The most common of these averages are the “number average molecular weight” (Mn) and the “weight average molecular weight” (Mw). Methods of calculating these values are described in the art, e.g., in Example 9 of WO 2008/073186,

The polydispersity index or PI is defined as the ratio of Mw/Mn. The larger the PI, the broader or more disperse the distribution. The lowest value that a PI can be is 1. This represents a monodisperse sample; that is, a polymer with all of the molecules in the distribution being the same molecular weight.

The peak molecular weight value (MP) is another descriptor defined as the mode of the molecular weight distribution. It signifies the molecular weight that is most abundant in the distribution. This value also gives insight to the molecular weight distribution.

Most GPC measurements are made relative to a different polymer standard. The accuracy of the results depends on how closely the characteristics of the polymer being analyzed match those of the standard used. The expected error in reproducibility between different series of determinations, calibrated separately, is around 5-10% and is characteristic to the limited precision of GPC determinations. Therefore, GPC results are most useful when a comparison between the molecular weight distributions of different samples is made during the same series of determinations.

The lignocellulosic samples required sample preparation prior to GPC analysis. First, a saturated solution (8.4% by weight) of lithium chloride (LiCl) was prepared in dimethyl acetamide (DMAc). Approximately 100 mg of each sample was added to approximately 10 g of a freshly prepared saturated LiCl/DMAc solution, and the mixtures were heated to approximately 150° C.-170° C. with stirring for 1 hour. The resulting solutions were generally light- to dark-yellow in color. The temperature of the solutions was decreased to approximately 100° C. and the solutions were heated for an additional 2 hours. The temperature of the solutions was then decreased to approximately 50° C. and the sample solutions were heated for approximately 48 to 60 hours. Of note, samples irradiated at 100 MRad were more easily solubilized as compared to their untreated counterpart. Additionally, the sheared samples (denoted by the number 132) had slightly lower average molecular weights as compared with uncut samples.

The resulting sample solutions were diluted 1:1 using DMAc as solvent and were filtered through a 0.45 μm PTFE filter. The filtered sample solutions were then analyzed by GPC using the parameters described in Table 7. The peak average molecular weights (Mp) of the samples, as determined by Gel Permeation Chromatography (GPC), are summarized in Tables 3-6. Each sample was prepared in duplicate and each preparation of the sample was analyzed in duplicate (two injections) for a total of four injections per sample. The EasiCal® polystyrene standards PS1A and PS1B were used to generate a calibration curve for the molecular weight scale from about 580 to 7,500,00 Daltons.

TABLE 7
GPC Analysis Conditions
Instrument: Waters Alliance GPC 2000
Plgel 10μ Mixed-B
Columns (3): S/N's: 10M-MB-148-83; 10M-MB-
148-84; 10M-MB-174-129
Mobile Phase (solvent): 0.5% LiCl in DMAc (1.0 mL/min.)
Column/Detector Temperature: 70° C.
Injector Temperature: 70° C.
Sample Loop Size: 323.5 μL

Example 6 Time-Of-Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (ToF-SIMS) Surface Analysis

Time-of-Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectroscopy (ToF-SIMS) is a surface-sensitive spectroscopy that uses a pulsed ion beam (Cs or microfocused Ga) to remove molecules from the very outermost surface of the sample. The particles are removed from atomic monolayers on the surface (secondary ions). These particles are then accelerated into a “flight tube” and their mass is determined by measuring the exact time at which they reach the detector (i.e. time-of-flight). ToF-SIMS provides detailed elemental and molecular information about the surface, thin layers, interfaces of the sample, and gives a full three-dimensional analysis. The use is widespread, including semiconductors, polymers, paint, coatings, glass, paper, metals, ceramics, biomaterials, pharmaceuticals and organic tissue. Since ToF-SIMS is a survey technique, all the elements in the periodic table, including H, are detected. ToF-SIMS data is presented in Tables 8-11. Parameters used are reported in Table 12.

TABLE 8
Normalized Mean Intensities of Various Positive Ions of Interest
(Normalized relative to total ion counts × 10000)
P132 P132-10 P132-100
m/z species Mean σ Mean σ Mean σ
23 Na 257 28 276 54 193 36
27 Al 647 43 821 399 297 44
28 Si 76 45.9 197 89 81.7 10.7
15 CH3 77.9 7.8 161 26 133 12
27 C2H3 448 28 720 65 718 82
39 C3H3 333 10 463 37 474 26
41 C3H5 703 19 820 127 900 63
43 C3H7 657 11 757 162 924 118
115 C9H7 73 13.4 40.3 4.5 42.5 15.7
128 C10H8 55.5 11.6 26.8 4.8 27.7 6.9
73 C3H9Si* 181 77 65.1 18.4 81.7 7.5
147 C5H15OSi2* 72.2 33.1 24.9 10.9 38.5 4
207 C5H15O3Si3* 17.2 7.8 6.26 3.05 7.49 1.77
647 C42H64PO3 3.63 1.05 1.43 1.41 10.7 7.2

TABLE 9
Normalized Mean Intensities of Various Negative Ions of Interest
(Normalized relative to total ion counts × 10000)
P132 P132-10 P132-100
m/z species Mean σ Mean σ Mean σ
19 F 15.3 2.1 42.4 37.8 19.2 1.9
35 Cl 63.8 2.8 107 33 74.1 5.5
13 CH 1900 91 1970 26 1500 6
25 C2H 247 127 220 99 540 7
26 CN 18.1 2.1 48.6 30.8 43.9 1.4
42 CNO 1.16 0.71 0.743 0.711 10.8 0.9
46 NO2 1.87 0.38 1.66 1.65 12.8 1.8

TABLE 10
Normalized Mean Intensities of Various Positive Ions of Interest
(Normalized relative to total ion counts × 10000)
P-1e P-5e P-10e P-30e P-70e P-100e
m/z Species Mean σ Mean σ Mean σ Mean σ Mean σ Mean σ
23 Na 232 56 370 37 241 44 518 57 350 27 542 104
27 Al 549 194 677 86 752 371 761 158 516 159 622 166
28 Si 87.3 11.3 134 24 159 100 158 32 93.7 17.1 124 11
15 CH3 114 23 92.9 3.9 128 18 110 16 147 16 141 5
27 C2H3 501 205 551 59 645 165 597 152 707 94 600 55
39 C3H3 375 80 288 8 379 82 321 57 435 61 417 32
41 C3H5 716 123 610 24 727 182 607 93 799 112 707 84
43 C3H7 717 121 628 52 653 172 660 89 861 113 743 73
115 C9H7 49.9 14.6 43.8 2.6 42.2 7.9 41.4 10.1 27.7 8 32.4 10.5
128 C10H8 38.8 13.1 39.2 1.9 35.2 11.8 31.9 7.8 21.2 6.1 24.2 6.8
73 C3H9Si* 92.5 3.0 80.6 2.9 72.3 7.7 75.3 11.4 63 3.4 55.8 2.1
147 C5H15OSi2* 27.2 3.9 17.3 1.2 20.4 4.3 16.1 1.9 21.7 3.1 16.3 1.7
207 C5H15O3Si3* 6.05 0.74 3.71 0.18 4.51 0.55 3.54 0.37 5.31 0.59 4.08 0.28
647 C42H64PO3 1.61 1.65 1.09 1.30 0.325 0.307 nd ~ 0.868 1.31 0.306 0.334

TABLE 11
Normalized Mean Intensities of Various Negative Ions of Interest
(Normalized relative to total ion counts × 10000)
P-1e P-5e P-10e P-30e P-70e P-100e
m/z species Mean σ Mean σ Mean σ Mean σ Mean σ Mean σ
13 CH 1950 72 1700 65 1870 91 1880 35 2000 46 2120 102
25 C2H 154 47 98.8 36.3 157 4 230 17 239 22 224 19
19 F 25.4 1 24.3 1.4 74.3 18.6 40.6 14.9 25.6 1.9 21.5 2
35 Cl 39.2 13.5 38.7 3.5 46.7 5.4 67.6 6.2 45.1 2.9 32.9 10.2
26 CN 71.9 18.9 6.23 2.61 28.1 10.1 34.2 29.2 57.3 28.9 112 60
42 CNO 0.572 0.183 0.313 0.077 0.62 0.199 1.29 0.2 1.37 0.55 1.38 0.28
46 NO2 0.331 0.057 0.596 0.255 0.668 0.149 1.44 0.19 1.92 0.29 0.549 0.1

TABLE 12
ToF-SIMS Parameters
Instrument Conditions:
Instrument: PHI TRIFT II
Primary Ion Source: 69Ga
Primary Ion Beam Potential: 12 kV + ions
18 kV − ions
Primary Ion Current (DC): 2 na for P#E samples
600 pA for P132 samples
Energy Filter/CD: Out/Out
Masses Blanked: None
Charge Compensation: On

ToF-SIMS uses a focused, pulsed particle beam (typically Cs or Ga) to dislodge chemical species on a materials surface. Particles produced closer to the site of impact tend to be dissociated ions (positive or negative). Secondary particles generated farther from the impact site tend to be molecular compounds, typically fragments of much larger organic macromolecules. The particles are then accelerated into a flight path on their way towards a detector. Because it is possible to measure the “time-of-flight” of the particles from the time of impact to detector on a scale of nano-seconds, it is possible to produce a mass resolution as fine as 0.00× atomic mass units (i.e. one part in a thousand of the mass of a proton). Under typical operating conditions, the results of ToF-SIMS analysis include: a mass spectrum that surveys all atomic masses over a range of 0-10,000 amu, the rastered beam produces maps of any mass of interest on a sub-micron scale, and depth profiles are produced by removal of surface layers by sputtering under the ion beam. Negative ion analysis showed that the polymer had increasing amounts of CNO, CN, and NO2 groups.

Example 7 X-Ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS)/Electron Spectroscopy for Chemical Analysis (ESCA)

X-Ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS) (sometimes called “ESCA”) measures the chemical composition of the top five nanometers of surface; XPS uses photo-ionization energy and energy-dispersive analysis of the emitted photoelectrons to study the composition and electronic state of the surface region of a sample. X-ray Photoelectron spectroscopy is based upon a single photon in/electron out. Soft x-rays stimulate the ejection of photoelectrons whose kinetic energy is measured by an electrostatic electron energy analyzer. Small changes to the energy are caused by chemically-shifted valence states of the atoms from which the electrons are ejected; thus, the measurement provides chemical information about the sample surface.

TABLE 13
Atomic Concentrations (in %)a,b
Atom
Sample ID C O Al Si
P132 (Area1) 57.3 39.8 1.5 1.5
P132 (Area2) 57.1 39.8 1.6 1.5
P132-10 (Area 1) 63.2 33.5 1.7 1.6
P132-10 (Area 2) 65.6 31.1 1.7 1.7
P132-100 (Area 1) 61.2 36.7 0.9 1.2
P132-100 (Area 2) 61 36.9 0.8 1.3
aNormalized to 100% of the elements detected. XPS does not detect H or He.

TABLE 14
Carbon Chemical State (in % C)
Sample ID C—C, C—H C—O C═O O—C═O
P132 (Area 1) 22 49 21 7
P132 (Area 2) 25 49 20 6
P132-10 (Area 1) 34 42 15 9
P132-10 (Area 2) 43 38 14 5
P132-100 (Area 1) 27 45 15 9
P132-100 (Area 2) 25 44 23 9

TABLE 15
Atomic Concentrations (in %)a,b
Atom
Sample ID C O Al Si Na
P-1e (Area 1) 59.8 37.9 1.4 0.9 ~
P-1e (Area 2) 58.5 38.7 1.5 1.3 ~
P-5e (Area 1) 58.1 39.7 1.4 0.8 ~
P-5e (Area 2) 58.0 39.7 1.5 0.8 ~
P-10e (Area 1) 61.6 36.7 1.1 0.7 ~
P-10e (Area 2) 58.8 38.6 1.5 1.1 ~
P-50e (Area 1) 59.9 37.9 1.4 0.8 <0.1
P-50e (Area 2) 59.4 38.3 1.4 0.9 <0.1
P-70e (Area 1) 61.3 36.9 1.2 0.6 <0.1
P-70e (Area 2) 61.2 36.8 1.4 0.7 <0.1
P-100e (Area 1) 61.1 37.0 1.2 0.7 <0.1
P-100e (Area 2) 60.5 37.2 1.4 0.9 <0.1
aNormalized to 100% of the elements detected. XPS does not detect H or He.
bA less than symbol “<” indicates accurate quantification cannot be made due to weak signal intensity.

TABLE 16
Carbon Chemical State Table (in % C)
Sample ID C—C, C—H C—O C═O O—C═O
P-1e (Area 1) 29 46 20 5
P-1e (Area 2) 27 49 19 5
P-5e (Area 1) 25 53 18 5
P-5e (Area 2) 28 52 17 4
P-10e (Area 1) 33 47 16 5
P-10e (Area 2) 28 51 16 5
P-50e (Area 1) 29 45 20 6
P-50e (Area 2) 28 50 16 5
P-70e (Area 1) 32 45 16 6
P-70e (Area 2) 35 43 16 6
P-100e (Area 1) 32 42 19 7
P-100e (Area 2) 30 47 16 7

TABLE 17
Analytical Parameters
Instrument: PHI Quantum 2000
X-ray source: Monochromated Alkα 1486.6 eV
Acceptance Angle: ±23°
Take-off angle:   45°
Analysis area: 1400 × 300 μm
Charge Correction: C1s 284.8 eV

XPS spectra are obtained by irradiating a material with a beam of aluminum or magnesium with X-rays while simultaneously measuring the kinetic energy (KE) and number of electrons that escape from the top 1 to 10 nm of the material being analyzed (see analytical parameters, Table 17). The XPS technique is highly surface specific due to the short range of the photoelectrons that are excited from the solid. The energy of the photoelectrons leaving the sample is determined using a Concentric Hemispherical Analyzer (CHA) and this gives a spectrum with a series of photoelectron peaks. The binding energy of the peaks is characteristic of each element. The peak areas can be used (with appropriate sensitivity factors) to determine the composition of the materials surface. The shape of each peak and the binding energy can be slightly altered by the chemical state of the emitting atom. Hence XPS can provide chemical bonding information as well. XPS is not sensitive to hydrogen or helium, but can detect all other elements. XPS requires ultra-high vacuum (UHV) conditions and is commonly used for the surface analysis of polymers, coatings, catalysts, composites, fibers, ceramics, pharmaceutical/medical materials, and materials of biological origin. XPS data is reported in Tables 13-16 above.

Example 8 Fourier Transform Infrared (FT-IR) Spectrum of Irradiated and Unirradiated Samples

FT-IR analysis was performed on a Nicolet/Impact 400. The results indicate that samples P132, P132-10, P132-100, P-1e, P-5e, P-10e, P-30e, P-70e, and P-100e are consistent with a cellulose-based material having carboxylic acid groups.

FIG. 12 is an infrared spectrum of Kraft board paper sheared according to Example 4, while FIG. 13 is an infrared spectrum of the Kraft paper of FIG. 12 after irradiation with 100 MRad of gamma radiation. The irradiated sample shows an additional peak in region A (centered about 1730 cm−1) that is not found in the un-irradiated material. Of note, an increase in the amount of a carbonyl absorption at ˜1650 cm−1 was detected when going from P132 to P132-10 to P132-100. Similar results were observed for the samples P-1e, P-5e, P-10e, P-30e, P-70e, and P-100e.

The alfalfa samples showed a small peak present at 1720 cm−1 in the untreated sample, which grows to the most dominant peak in the A-50e spectrum.

Example 9 Proton and Carbon-13 Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (1H-NMR and 13C-NMR) Spectra of Irradiated and Unirradiated Samples Sample Preparation

The samples P132, P132-10, P132-100, P-1e, P-5e, P-10e, P-30e, P-70e, and P-100e were prepared for analysis by dissolution with DMSO-d6 with 2% tetrabutyl ammonium fluoride trihydrate. The samples that had undergone lower levels of irradiation were significantly less soluble than the samples that had undergone higher irradiation. Unirradiated samples formed a gel in this solvent mixture, but heating to 60° C. resolved the peaks in the NMR spectra. The samples having undergone higher levels of irradiation were soluble at a concentration of 10% wt/wt.

Analysis

1H-NMR spectra of the samples at 15 mg/mL showed a distinct very broad resonance peak centered at 16 ppm. This peak is characteristic of an exchangeable —OH proton for an enol and was confirmed by a “d2O shake.” Model compounds (acetylacetone, glucuronic acid, and keto-gulonic acid) were analyzed and made a convincing case that this peak was indeed an exchangeable proton.

The carboxylic acid proton resonances of the model compounds were similar to what was observed for the treated cellulose samples. These model compounds were shifted up field to ˜5-6 ppm. Preparation of P-100e at higher concentrations (˜10% wt/wt) led to the dramatic down field shifting to where the carboxylic acid resonances of the model compounds were found (˜6 ppm). These results lead to the conclusion that this resonance is unreliable for characterizing this functional group, however the data suggests that the number of exchangeable hydrogens increases with increasing irradiation of the sample. Also, no vinyl protons were detected.

The 13C NMR spectra of the samples confirm the presence of a carbonyl of a carboxylic acid. This new peak (at 168 ppm) is not present in the untreated samples (FIG. 12). A 13C NMR spectrum with a long delay allowed the quantitation of the signal for P-100e (FIG. 14). Comparison of the integration of the carbonyl resonance to the resonances at approximately 100 ppm (the C1 signals) suggests that the ratio of the carbonyl carbon to C1 is 1:13.8 or roughly 1 carbonyl for every 14 glucose units. The chemical shift at 100 ppm correlates well with glucuronic acid.

The 13C NMR spectrum for A-50E (166,000 scans; 38 h) shows aromatic carbons of lignin (˜130 ppm) and also shows multiple carbonyl resonances around 170 ppm. The 1H NMR clearly shows the aromatic signals from lignin.

Manual Titration

Samples P-100e and P132-100 (1 g) were suspended in deionized water (25 mL). The indicator alizarin yellow was added to each sample with stirring. P-100e was more difficult to wet. Both samples were titrated with a solution of 0.2M NaOH. The end point was very subtle and was confirmed by using pH paper. The starting pH of the samples was ˜4 for both samples. P132-100 required 0.4 milliequivalents of hydroxide, which gives a molecular weight for the carboxylic acid of 2500 amu. If 180 amu is used for a monomer, this suggests there is one carboxylic acid group for 13.9 monomer units. Likewise, P-100e required 3.2 milliequivalents of hydroxide, which calculates to be one carboxylic acid group for every 17.4 monomer units.

Potentiometric Titration Analysis

A potentiometer (Metrohm Ion Analysis 794 Basic Titrino) was used to measure the electrode potential of sample solutions and therefore an accurate titration analysis based on a redox reaction was achieved. The potential of the working electrode will suddenly change as the endpoint is reached.

Results

P-30E had one carboxylic acid per 57 saccharide units. P-70E had one carboxylic acid unit per 27 saccharide units. P-100E had one carboxylic acid per 22 saccharide units.

Conclusions

The C-6 carbon of cellulose appears to be oxidized to the carboxylic acid (a glucuronic acid derivative) and this oxidation is surprisingly specific. This oxidation is in agreement with the IR band that grows with irradiation at ˜1740 cm−1, which corresponds to an aliphatic carboxylic acid. The titration results are in agreement with the quantitative 13C NMR. The increased solubility of the sample with the higher levels of irradiation correlates well with the increasing number of carboxylic acid protons. A proposed mechanism for the degradation of “C-6 oxidized cellulose” is provided below in Scheme 1.

Other Embodiments

A number of embodiments of the invention have been described. Nevertheless, it will be understood that various modifications may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Accordingly, other embodiments are within the scope of the following claims.

Classifications
U.S. Classification536/63, 536/56, 536/124, 536/123.1
International ClassificationC08B3/00, C08B1/00, C08B37/00
Cooperative ClassificationD21C5/00, C10L5/44, Y02E50/10, C08B15/04, C08B15/06, C08H8/00, Y02E50/30, D21C3/22, D21C9/001, D21C3/02
European ClassificationC08B15/04, C08H8/00, D21C9/00B, D21C3/02, D21C3/22, D21C5/00, C10L5/44
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Jul 17, 2009ASAssignment
Owner name: XYLECO, INC., MASSACHUSETTS
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:MEDOFF, MARSHALL;REEL/FRAME:022972/0806
Owner name: XYLECO, INC., MASSACHUSETTS
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:MEDOFF, MARSHALL;REEL/FRAME:022972/0806
Effective date: 20090423
Owner name: XYLECO, INC.,MASSACHUSETTS
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:MEDOFF, MARSHALL;REEL/FRAME:22972/806
Effective date: 20090423