Pulp and Paper Research Institute of Canada, Pointe Claire, Quebec, Canada H9R 3J9.
The white rot fungus Trametes (Coriolus) versicolor can delignify and brighten unbleached hardwood kraft pulp within a few days, but softwood kraft pulps require longer treatment. To determine the contributions of higher residual lignin contents (kappa numbers) and structural differences in lignins to the recalcitrance of softwood kraft pulps to biobleaching, we tested softwood and hardwood pulps cooked to the same kappa numbers, 26 and 12. A low-lignin-content (overcooked) softwood pulp resisted delignification by T. versicolor, but a high-lignin-content (lightly cooked) hardwood pulp was delignified at the same rate as a normal softwood pulp. Thus, the longer time taken by T. versicolor to brighten softwood kraft pulp than hardwood pulp results from the higher residual lignin content of the softwood pulp; possible differences in the structures of the residual lignins are important only when the lignin becomes highly condensed. Under the conditions used in this study, when an improved fungal inoculum was used, six different softwood pulps were all substantially brightened by T. versicolor. Softwood pulps whose lignin contents were decreased by extended modified continuous cooking or oxygen delignification to kappa numbers as low as 15 were delignified by T. versicolor at the same rate as normal softwood pulp. More intensive O(2) delignification, like overcooking, decreased the susceptibility of the residual lignin in the pulps to degradation by T. versicolor.
PMID: 16349246 [PubMed]PMCID: PMC201495Free PMC Article