Recently, more attentions have been focused on the exploration of hemicelluloses in the paper industry. In this work, xylan-grafted-polyacrylamide (xylan-g-PAM) biopolymers were synthesized by the graft copolymerization of xylan with acrylamide, and their interaction with fibers was also investigated to improve waste newspaper pulp properties with or without cationic fiber fines. The influences of synthesis conditions were studied on the grafting ratio and the grafting efficiency of biopolymers. Prepared biopolymers were characterized by FTIR, 13
C NMR, TGA and rheology. It was found that the grafting of PAM on xylan was conductive to improve xylan properties, such as the solubility in water, rheological features, and thermal stability, and the maximum grafting ratio was achieved to 14.7%. Moreover, xylan-g-PAM could obviously enhance the mechanical properties of waste paper pulps. Xylan-g-PAM also played the dominant role in increasing the strength of paper in the combination with prepared cationic fine fibers. When the amounts of xylan-g-PAM and cationic fiber fines were 1.0 wt % and 0.5 wt %, the mechanical properties such as the tensile index was increased by 49.09%, tear index was increased by 36.54%, and the burst index was increased by 20.67%, when compared with the control handsheets. Therefore, xylan-g-PAM as the new biopolymer could be promising in the application of strength agents for the paper industry as well as cationic fiber fines.
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