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Oxidation of Cellulose

 

 

 

This degradation is found when oxygen is absorbed at certain sites on the cellulose molecule. With this oxygen absorption we will find an increase in oxygen containing groups such as carbonyls and carboxylic acids. As this greatly increased level of acid is released, the cellulose will be hydrolyzed (meaning the covalent bond between the rings in the cellulose chain will be broken, forming two shorter chains and releasing a hydrogen ion) (see illustrations 10 through 13). Oxidation will also cause color changes in paper, particularly if such impurities as lignin, iron, alum sizing and hemicelluloses are present. Hemicelluloses are polysaccharides (multiple sugar units) which have many branches, so they do not stack or fit tightly into microfibrils like alpha cellulose (glucose units).