Researches on Cellulose - 1895-1900
by C. F. Cross
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Transcriber's note:

For Text: A word surrounded by a cedilla such as this signifies that the word is bolded in the text. A word surrounded by underscores like this signifies the word is italics in the text. The italic and bold markup for single italized letters (such as variables in equations) and "foreign" abbreviations are deleted for easier reading.

For numbers and equations: Parentheses have been added to clarify fractions. Underscores before bracketed numbers in equations denote a subscript. Superscripts are designated with a caret and brackets, e.g. 11.1^{3} is 11.1 to the third power. Greek letters in equations are translated to their English version.

The sections in the Table of Contents are not used in the actual text. They have been added for clarity.

Minor typos have been corrected and footnotes moved to the end of the sections

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This edition is a reprint of the first in response to a continuous demand for the book. The matter, consisting as it does largely of records, does not call for any revision, and, as a contribution to the development of theory, any particular interest which it has is associated with the date at which it was written.

The volume which has since appeared is the sequel, and aims at an exposition of the subject "to date".


This volume, which is intended as a supplement to the work which we published in 1895, gives a brief account of researches which have been subsequently published, as well as of certain of our own investigations, the results of which are now for the first time recorded.

We have not attempted to give the subject-matter the form of a connected record. The contributions to the study of 'Cellulose' which are noticed are spread over a large area, are mostly 'sectional' in their aim, and the only cohesion which we can give them is that of classifying them according to the plan of our original work. Their subject-matter is reproduced in the form of a precis, as much condensed as possible; of the more important papers the original title is given. In all cases we have endeavoured to reproduce the Author's main conclusions, and in most cases without comment or criticism.

Specialists will note that the basis of investigation is still in a great measure empirical; and of this the most obvious criterion is the confusion attaching to the use of the very word 'Cellulose.' This is due to various causes, one of which is the curious specialisation of the term in Germany as the equivalent of 'wood cellulose.' The restriction of this general or group term has had an influence even in scientific circles. Another influence preventing the recognition of the obvious and, as we think, inevitable basis of classification of the 'celluloses' is the empiricism of the methods of agricultural chemistry, which as regards cellulose are so far chiefly concerned with its negative characteristics and the analytical determination of the indigestible residue of fodder plants. Physiologists, again, have their own views and methods in dealing with cellulose, and have hitherto had but little regard to the work of the chemist in differentiating and classifying the celluloses on a systematic basis. There are many sides to the subject, and it is only by a sustained effort towards centralisation that the general recognition of a systematic basis can be secured.

We may, we hope usefully, direct attention to the conspicuous neglect of the subject in this country. To the matter of the present volume, excluding our own investigations, there are but two contributions from English laboratories. We invite the younger generation of students of chemistry to measure the probability of finding a working career in connection with the cellulose industries. They will not find this invitation in the treatment accorded to the subject in text-books and lectures. It is probable, indeed, that the impression produced by their studies is that the industries in coal-tar products largely exceed in importance those of which the carbohydrates are the basis; whereas the former are quite insignificant by comparison. A little reflection will prove that cellulose, starch, and sugar are of vast industrial moment in the order in which they are mentioned. If it is an open question to what extent science follows industry, or vice versa, it is not open to doubt that scientific men, and especially chemists, are called in these days to lead and follow where industrial evolution is most active. There is ample evidence of activity and great expansion in the cellulose industries, especially in those which involve the chemistry of the raw material; and the present volume should serve to show that there is rapid advance in the science of the subject. Hence our appeal to the workers not to neglect those opportunities which belong to the days of small beginnings.

We have especially to acknowledge the services of Mr. J. F. BRIGGS in investigations which are recorded on pp. 34-40 and pp. 125-133 of the text.


















In the period 1895-1900, which has elapsed since the original publication of our work on 'Cellulose,' there have appeared a large number of publications dealing with special points in the chemistry of cellulose. So large has been the contribution of matter that it has been considered opportune to pass it under review; and the present volume, taking the form of a supplement to the original work, is designed to incorporate this new matter and bring the subject as a whole to the level to which it is thereby to be raised. Some of our critics in reviewing the original work have pronounced it 'inchoate.' For this there are some explanations inherent in the matter itself. It must be remembered that every special province of the science has its systematic beginning, and in that stage of evolution makes a temporary 'law unto itself.' In the absence of a dominating theory or generalisation which, when adopted, gives it an organic connection with the general advance of the science, there is no other course than to classify the subject-matter. Thus 'the carbohydrates' may be said to have been in the inchoate condition, qualified by a certain classification, prior to the pioneering investigations of Fischer. In attacking the already accumulated and so far classified material from the point of view of a dominating theory, he found not only that the material fell into systematic order and grew rapidly under the stimulus of fruitful investigation, but in turn contributed to the firmer establishment of the theoretical views to which the subject owed its systematic new birth. On the other hand, every chemist knows that it is only the simpler of the carbohydrates which are so individualised as to be connoted by a particular formula in the stereoisomeric system. Leaving the monoses, there is even a doubt as to the constitution of cane sugar; and the elements of uncertainty thicken as we approach the question of the chemical structure of starch. This unique product of plant life has a literature of its own, and how little of this is fully known to what we may term the 'average chemist' is seen by the methods he will employ for its quantitative estimation. In one particular review of our work where we are taken to task for producing 'an aggravating book, inchoate in the highest degree ... disfigured by an obscurity of diction which must materially diminish its usefulness' ['Nature,' 1897, p. 241], the author, who is a well-known and competent critic, makes use of the short expression in regard to the more complex carbohydrates, 'Above cane sugar, higher in the series, all is chaos,' and in reference to starch, 'the subject is still enshrouded in mystery.' This 'material' complexity is at its maximum with the most complex members of the series, which are the celluloses, and we think accounts in part for the impatience of our critic. 'Obscurity of diction' is a personal quantity, and we must leave that criticism to the fates. We find also that many workers whose publications we notice in this present volume quite ignore the plan of the work, though they make use of its matter. We think it necessary to restate this plan, which, we are satisfied, is systematic, and, in fact, inevitable. Cellulose is in the first instance a structure, and the anatomical relationships supply a certain basis of classification. Next, it is known to us and is defined by the negative characteristics of resistance to hydrolytic actions and oxidations. These are dealt with in the order of their intensity. Next we have the more positive definition by ultimate products of hydrolysis, so far as they are known, which discloses more particularly the presence of a greater or less proportion of furfural-yielding groups. Putting all these together as criteria of function and composition we find they supply common or general dividing lines, within which groups of these products are contained. The classification is natural, and in that sense inevitable; and it not only groups the physiological and chemical facts, but the industrial also. We do not propose to argue the question whether the latter adds any cogency to a scientific scheme. We are satisfied that it does, and we do not find any necessity to exclude a particular set of phenomena from consideration, because they involve 'commercial' factors. We have dealt with this classification in the original work (p. 78), and we discuss its essential basis in the present volume (p. 28) in connection with the definition of a 'normal' cellulose. But the 'normal' cellulose is not the only cellulose, any more than a primary alcohol or an aliphatic alcohol are the only alcohols. This point is confused or ignored in several of the recent contributions of investigators. It will suffice to cite one of these in illustration. On p. 16 we give an account of an investigation of the several methods of estimating cellulose, which is full of valuable and interesting matter. The purpose of the author's elaborate comparative study is to decide which has the strongest claims to be regarded as the 'standard' method. They appear to have a preference for the method of Lange—viz. that of heating at high temperatures (180 deg.) with alkaline hydrates, but the investigation shows that (as we had definitely stated in our original work, p. 214) this is subject to large and variable errors. The adverse judgment of the authors, we may point out, is entirely determined on the question of aggregate weight or yield, and without reference to the ultimate composition or constitution of the final product. None of the available criteria are applied to the product to determine whether it is a cellulose (anhydride) or a hydrate or a hydrolysed product. After these alkali-fusion processes the method of chlorination is experimentally reviewed and dismissed for the reason that the product retains furfural-yielding groups, which is, from our point of view, a particular recommendation, i.e. is evidence of the selective action of the chlorine and subsequent hydrolysis upon the lignone group. As a matter of fact it is the only method yet available for isolating the cellulose from a lignocellulose by a treatment which is quantitatively to be accounted for in every detail of the reactions. It does not yield a 'normal' cellulose, and this is the expression which, in our opinion, the authors should have used. It should have been pointed out, moreover, that, as the cellulose is separated from actual condensed combination with the lignone groups, it may be expected to be obtained in a hydrated form, and also not as a homogeneous substance like the normal cotton cellulose. The product is a cellulose of the second group of the classification. Another point in this investigation which we must criticise is the ultimate selection of the Schulze method of prolonged maceration with nitric acid and a chlorate, followed by suitable hydrolysis of the non-cellulose derivatives to soluble products. Apart from its exceptional inconvenience, rendering it quite impracticable in laboratories which are concerned with the valuation of cellulosic raw materials for industrial purposes, the attack of the reagent is complex and ill-defined. This criticism we would make general by pointing out that such processes quite ignore the specific characteristics of the non-cellulose components of the compound celluloses. The second division of the plan of our work was to define these constituents by bringing together all that had been established concerning them. These groups are widely divergent in chemical character, as are the compound celluloses in function in the plant. Consequently there is for each a special method of attack, and it is a reversion to pure empiricism to expect any one treatment to act equally on the pectocelluloses, lignocelluloses, and cutocelluloses. Processes of isolating cellulose are really more strictly defined as methods of selective and regulated attack of the groups with which they occur, combined or mixed. A chemist familiar with such types as rhea or ramie (pectocellulose), jute (lignocellulose), and raffia (cutocellulose) knows exactly the specific treatment to apply to each for isolating the cellulose, and must view with some surprise the appearance at this date of such 'universal prescriptions' as the process in question.

The third division of our plan of arrangement comprised the synthetical derivatives of the celluloses, the sulphocarbonates first, as peculiarly characteristic, and then the esters, chiefly the acetates, benzoates, and nitrates. To these, investigators appear to have devoted but little attention, and the contribution of new matter in the present volume is mainly the result of our own researches. It will appear from this work that an exhaustive study of the cellulose esters promises to assist very definitely in the study of constitutional problems.

This brings us to the fourth and, to the theoretical chemist, the most important aspect of the subject, the problem of the actual molecular structure of the celluloses and compound celluloses. It is herein we are of opinion that the subject makes a 'law unto itself.' If the constitution of starch is shrouded in mystery and can only be vaguely expressed by generalising a complex mass of statistics of its successive hydrolyses, we can only still more vaguely guess at the distance which separates us from a mental picture of the cellulose unit. We endeavour to show by our later investigations that this problem merges into that of the actual structure of cellulose in the mass. It is definitely ascertained that a change in the molecule, or reacting unit, of a cellulose, proportionately affects the structural properties of the derived compounds, both sulphocarbonates and esters. This is at least an indication that the properties of the visible aggregates are directly related to the actual configuration of the chemical units. But it appears that we are barred from the present discussion of such a problem in absence of any theory of the solid state generally, but more particularly of those forms of matter which are grouped together as 'colloids.'

Cellulose is distinguished by its inherent constructive functions, and these functions take effect in the plastic or colloidal condition of the substance. These properties are equally conspicuous in the synthetical derivatives of the compound. Without reference, therefore, to further speculations, and not deterred by any apparent hopelessness of solving so large a problem, it is clear that we have to exhaust this field by exact measurements of all the constants which can be reduced to numerical expression. It is most likely that the issue may conflict with some of our current views of the molecular state which are largely drawn from a study of the relatively dissociated forms of matter. But such conflicts are only those of enlargement, and we anticipate that all chemists look for an enlargement of the molecular horizon precisely in those regions where the forces of cell-life manifest themselves.

The cellulose group has been further differentiated by later investigations. The fibrous celluloses of which the typical members receive important industrial applications, graduate by insensible stages into the hemicelluloses which may be regarded as a well-established sub-group. In considering their morphological and functional relationships it is evident that the graduation accords with their structure and the less permanent functions which they fulfil. They are aggregates of monoses of the various types, chiefly mannose, galactose, dextrose, &c., so far as they have been investigated.

Closely connected with this group are the constituents of the tissues of fungi. The recent researches of Winterstein and Gilson, which are noted in this present volume, have established definitely that they contain a nitrogenous group in intimate combination with a carbohydrate complex. This group is closely related to chitin, yielding glucosamin and acetic acid as products of ultimate hydrolysis. Special interest attaches to these residues, as they are in a sense intermediate products between the great groups of the carbohydrates and proteids (E. Fischer, Ber. 19, 1920), and their further investigation by physiological methods may be expected to disclose a genetic connection.

The lignocelluloses have been further investigated. Certain new types have been added, notably a soluble or 'pectic' form isolated from the juice of the white currant (p. 152), and the pith-like wood of the AEschynomene (p. 135).

Further researches on the typical fibrous lignocellulose have given us a basis for correcting some of the conclusions recorded in our original work, and a study of the esters has thrown some light on the constitution of the complex (p. 130).

Of importance also is the identification of the hydroxyfurfurals as constituents of the lignocelluloses generally, and the proof that the characteristic colour-reactions with phenols (phloroglucinol) may be ascribed to the presence of these compounds (p. 116).

The pectocelluloses have not been the subject of systematic chemical investigation, but the researches of Gilson ('La Cristallisation de la Cellulose et la Composition Chimique de la Membrane Cellulaire Vegetale,' 'La Revue,' 'La Cellule,' i. ix.) are an important contribution to the natural history of cellulose, especially in relation to the 'pectic' constituents of the parenchymatous celluloses. Indirectly also the researches of Tollens on the 'pectins' have contributed to the subject in correcting some of the views which have had a text-book currency for a long period. These are dealt with on p. 151. The results establish that the pectins are rather the soluble hydrated form of cellulosic aggregates in which acid groups may be represented; but such groups are not to be regarded as essentially characteristic of this class of compounds.

Furfural-yielding Substances (Furfuroids).—This group of plant products has been, by later investigations, more definitely and exclusively connected with the celluloses—i.e. with the more permanent of plant tissues. From the characteristic property of yielding furfural, which they have in common with the pentoses, they have been assumed to be the anhydrides of these C_{5} sugars or pentosanes; but the direct evidence for this assumption has been shown to be wanting. In regard to their origin the indirect evidences which have accumulated all point to their formation in the plant from hexoses. Of special interest, in its bearings on this point, is the direct transformation of levulose into furfural derivatives, which takes place under the action of condensing agents. The most characteristic is that produced by the action of anhydrous hydrobromic acid in presence of ether [Fenton], yielding a brommethyl furfural

C{6}H{12}O{6} - 4H{2}O + HBr = C{5}H{3}.O{2}.CH{2}Br

with a Br atom in the methyl group. These researches of Fenton's appear to us to have the most obvious and direct bearings upon the genetic relationships of the plant furfuroids and not only per se. To give them their full significance we must recall the later researches of Brown and Morris, which establish that cane sugar is a primary or direct product of assimilation, and that starch, which had been assumed to be a species of universal matiere premiere, is probably rather a general reserve for the elaborating work of the plant. If now the aldose groups tend to pass over into the starch form, representing a temporary overflow product of the assimilating energy, it would appear that the ketose or levulose groups are preferentially used up in the elaboration of the permanent tissue. We must also take into consideration the researches of Lobry de Bruyn showing the labile functions of the typical CO group in both aldoses and hexoses, whence we may conclude that in the plant-cell the transition from dextrose to levulose is a very simple and often occurring process.

We ourselves have contributed a link in this chain of evidence connecting the furfuroids of the plant with levulose or other keto-hexose. We have shown that the hydroxyfurfurals are constituents of the lignocelluloses. The proportion present in the free state is small, and it is not difficult to show that they are products of breakdown of the lignone groups. If we assume that such groups are derived ultimately from levulose, we have to account for the detachment of the methyl group. This, however, is not difficult, and we need only call to mind that the lignocelluloses are characterised by the presence of methoxy groups and a residue which is directly and easily hydrolysed to acetic acid. Moreover, the condensation need not be assumed to be a simple dehydration with attendant rearrangement; it may very well be accompanied or preceded by fixation of oxygen. Leaving out the hypothetical discussion of minor variations, there is a marked convergence of the evidence as to the main facts which establish the general relationships of the furfuroid group. This group includes both saturated and unsaturated or condensed compounds. The former are constituents of celluloses, the latter of the lignone complex of the lignocelluloses.

The actual production of furfural by boiling with condensing acids is a quantitative measure of only a portion, i.e. certain members of the group. The hydroxyfurfurals, not being volatile, are not measured in this way. By secondary reactions they may yield some furfural, but as they are highly reactive compounds, and most readily condensed, they are for the most part converted into complex 'tarry' products. Hence we have no means, as yet, of estimating those tissue constituents which yield hydroxyfurfurals; also we have no measure of the furfurane-rings existing performed in such a condensed complex as lignone. But, chemists having added in the last few years a large number of facts and well-defined probabilities, it is clear that the further investigation of the furfuroid group will take its stand upon a much more adequate basis than heretofore. On the view of 'furfural-yielding' being co-extensive with 'pentose or pentosane,' not only were a number of important facts obscured or misinterpreted, but there was a barrenness of suggestion of genetic relationships. As the group has been widened very much beyond these limits, it is clear that if any group term or designation is to be retained that of 'furfuroid' is 'neutral' in character, and equally applicable to saturated substances of such widely divergent chemical character as pentoses, hexosones, glycuronic acid, and perhaps, most important of all, levulose itself, all of which are susceptible of condensation to furfural or furfurane derivatives, as well as to those unsaturated compounds, constituents of plant tissues which are already furfurane derivatives.

From the chemical point of view such terms are perhaps superfluous. But physiological relationships have a significance of their own; and there is a physiological or functional cohesion marking this group which calls for recognition, at least for the time, and we therefore propose to retain the term furfuroid.[1]

General Experimental Methods.—In the investigation of the cellulose group it is clear that methods of ultimate hydrolysis are of first importance. None are so convenient as those which are based on the action of sulphuric acid, more or less concentrated (H{2}SO{4}.3H{2}O - H{2}SO{4}H{2}O). Such methods have been frequently employed in the investigations noted in this volume. We notice a common deficiency in the interpretation of the results. It appears to be sufficient to isolate and identify a crystalline monose, without reference to the yield or proportion to the parent substance, to establish some main point in connection with its constitution. On the other hand, it is clear that in hydrolysing a given cellulose-complex we ought to aim at complete, i.e. quantitative, statistics. The hydrolytic transformation of starch to dextrins and maltose has been followed in this way, and the methods may serve as a model to which cellulose transformations should be approximated. In fact, what is very much wanted is a systematic re-examination of the typical celluloses in which all the constants of the terms between the original and the ultimate monose groups shall be determined. Such constants are similar to those for the starch-dextrose series, viz. opticity and cupric reduction. Various methods of fractionation are similarly available, chiefly the precipitation of the intermediate 'dextrins' by alcohol.

Where the original celluloses are homogeneous we should thus obtain transformation series, similarly expressed to those of starch. In the case of the celluloses which are mixtures, or of complex constitution, there are various methods of either fractionating the original, or of selectively attacking particular monoses resulting from the transformation. By methods which are approximately quantitative a mixture of groups, such as we have, for instance, in jute cellulose, could be followed through the several stages of their resolution into monoses. To put the matter generally, in these colloidal and complex carbohydrates the ordinary physical criteria of molecular weight are wanting. Therefore, we cannot determine the relationship of a given product of decomposition to the parent molecule save by means of a quantitative mass-proportion. Physical criteria are only of determining value when associated with such constants as cupric reduction, and these, again, must be referred to some arbitrary initial weight, such as, for convenience, 100 parts of the original.

Instead of adopting these methods, without which, as a typical case, the mechanism of starch conversions could not have been followed, we have been content with a purely qualitative study of the analogous series obtainable from the celluloses under the action of sulphuric acid. A very important field of investigation lies open, especially to those who are generally familiar with the methods of studying starch conversions; and we may hope in this direction for a series of valuable contributions to the problem of the actual constitution of the celluloses.


[1] In this we are confirmed by other writers. See Tollens, J. fuer Landw. 1901, p. 27.


(p. 3)[2] Ash Constituents.—It is frequently asserted that silica has a structural function sui generis in the plant skeleton, having a relationship to the cellulosic constituents of the plant, distinct from that of the inorganic ash components with which it is associated. It should be noted that the matter has been specifically investigated in two directions. In Berl. Ber. 5, 568 (A. Ladenburg), and again in 11, 822 (W. Lange), appear two papers 'On the Nature of Plant Constituents containing Silicon,' which contain the results of experimental investigations of equisetum species—distinguished for their exceptionally high 'ash' with large proportion of silica—to determine whether there are any grounds for assuming the existence of silicon-organic compounds in the plant, the analogues of carbon compounds. The conclusions arrived at are entirely negative. In reference to the second assumption that the cuticular tissues of cereal straws, of esparto, of the bamboo, owe their special properties to siliceous components, it has been shown by direct experiment upon the former that their rigidity and resistance to water are in no way affected by cultivation in a silica-free medium. In other words, the structural peculiarities of the gramineae in these respects are due to the physical characteristics chiefly of the (lignified) cells of the hypodermal tissue, and to the composition and arrangement of the cells of the cuticle.

'Swedish' filter papers of modern make are so far freed from inorganic constituents that the weight of the ash may be neglected in nearly all quantitative experiments [Fresenius, Ztschr. Anal Chem. 1883, 241]. It represents usually about 1/1000 mgr. per 1 sq. cm. of area of the paper.

The form of an 'ash' derived from a fibrous structure, is that of the 'organic' original, more or less, according to its proportion and composition. The proportion of 'natural ash' is seldom large enough, nor are the components of such character as to give a coherent ash, but if in the case of a fibrous structure it is combined or intimately mixed with inorganic compounds deposited within the fibres from solution, the latter may be made to yield a perfect skeleton of the fibre after burning off the organic matter. It is by such means that the mantles used in the Welsbach system of incandescent lighting are prepared. A purified cotton fabric—or yarn—is treated with a concentrated solution of the mixed nitrates of thorium and cerium, and, after drying, the cellulose is burned away. A perfect and coherent skeleton of the fabric is obtained, composed of the mixed oxides. Such mantles have fulfilled the requirements of the industry up to the present time, but later experiments forecast a notable improvement. It has been found that artificial cellulose fibres can be spun with solutions containing considerable proportions of soluble compounds of these oxides. Such fibres, when knitted into mantles and ignited, yield an inorganic skeleton of the oxides of homogeneous structure and smooth contour. De Mare in 1894, and Knofler in 1895, patented methods of preparing such cellulose threads containing the salts of thorium and cerium, by spinning a collodion containing the latter in solution. When finally ignited, after being brought into the suitable mantle form, there results a structure which proves vastly more durable than the original Welsbach mantle. The cause of the superiority is thus set forth by V. H. Lewes in a recent publication (J. Soc. of Arts, 1900, p. 858): 'The alteration in physical structure has a most extraordinary effect upon the light-giving life of the mantle, and also on its strength, as after burning for a few hundred hours the constant bombardment of the mantle by dust particles drawn up by the rush of air in the chimney causes the formation of silicates on the surface of the mantle owing to silica being present in the air, and this seems to affect the Welsbach structure far more than it does the "Clamond" type, with the result that when burned continuously the Welsbach mantle falls to so low a pitch of light emissivity after 500 to 600 hours, as to be a mere shadow of its former self, giving not more than one-third of its original light, whilst the Knofler mantle keeps up its light-emitting power to a much greater extent, and the Lehner fabric is the most remarkable of all. Two Lehner mantles which have now been burning continuously in my laboratory for over 3,000 hours give at this moment a brighter light emissivity than most of the Welsbachs do in their prime.' ...'The new developments of the Clamond process form as important a step in the history of incandescent gas lighting as the discoveries which gave rise to the original mantles.'

It has further been found that the oxides themselves can be dissolved in the cellulose alkaline sulphocarbonate (viscose) solution, and artificial threads have been spun containing from 25 to 30 p.ct. of the oxides in homogeneous admixture with the cellulose. This method has obvious advantages over the collodion method both in regard to the molecular relationship of the oxides to the cellulose and to cheapness of production.


H. SURINGAR AND B. TOLLENS (Ztschr. angew. Chem. 1896, No. 23).


Introduction.—This is an exhaustive bibliography of the subject, describing also the various methods of cellulose estimation, noted in historical sequence. First, the Weende 'crude fibre' method (Henneberg) with modifications of Wattenberg, Holdefleiss, and others is dealt with. The product of this treatment, viz. 'crude fibre' is a mixture, containing furfuroids and lignone compounds. Next follows a group of processes which aim at producing a 'pure cellulose' by eliminating lignone constituents, for which the merely hydrolytic treatments of the Weende method are ineffectual. The method of F. Schulze—prolonged digestion with dilute nitric acid, with addition of chlorate—has been largely employed, though the composition of the product is more or less divergent from a 'pure cellulose.'

Dilute nitric acid at 60-80 deg. (Cross and Bevan) and a dilute mixture of nitric and sulphuric acids (Lifschutz) have been employed for isolating cellulose from the lignocelluloses. Hoffmeister modifies the method of Schulze by substituting hydrochloric acid for the nitric acid. Treatment with the halogens associated with alkaline processes of hydrolysis is the basis of the methods of Hugo Muller (bromine water) and Cross and Bevan (chlorine gas). Lastly, the authors notice the methods based upon the action of the alkaline hydrates at high temperatures (180 deg.) in presence of water (Lange), or of glycerin (Gabriel). The process of heating to 210 deg. with glycerin only (Hoenig) yields a very impure and ill-defined product.

For comparative investigation of these processes certain celluloses and cellulosic materials were prepared as follows:

(a) 'Rag' cellulose.—A chemical filter paper, containing only cotton and linen celluloses, was further purified by boiling with dilute acid and dilute alkali. After thorough washing it was air-dried.

(b) Wood cellulose.—Pine wood sawdust was treated by digestion for fourteen days with dilute nitric acid with addition of chlorate (Schulze). The mass was washed and digested with alkaline lye (1.25 p.ct. KOH), and exhaustively washed, treated with dilute acetic acid; again washed, and finally air-dried.

This product was found to yield 2.3 p.ct. furfural on distillation with HCl (1.06

(c) Purified wood.—Pine wood sawdust was treated in succession with dilute alkalis and acids, in the cold, and with alcohol and ether until exhausted of products soluble in these liquids and reagents.

In addition to the above the authors have also employed jute fibre and raw cotton wool in their investigations.

They note that the yield of cellulose is in many cases sensibly lowered by treating the material after drying at the temperature of 100 deg.. The material for treatment is therefore weighed in the air-dry condition, and a similar sample weighed off for drying at 100 deg. for determination of moisture.

The main results of the experimental investigation are as follows:—

Weende process further attacks the purified celluloses as follows: Wood cellulose losing in weight 8-9 p.ct.; filter paper, 6-7.5 p.ct., and the latter treated a second time loses a further 4-5 p.ct. It is clear, therefore, that the process is of purely empirical value.

Schulze.—This process gave a yield of 47.6 p.ct. cellulose from pine wood. The celluloses themselves, treated by the process, showed losses of 1-3 p.ct. in weight, much less therefore than in the preceding case.

Hoenig's method of heating with glycerin to 210 deg. was found to yield products very far removed from 'cellulose.' The process may have a certain value in estimations of 'crude fibre,' but is dismissed from further consideration in relation to cellulose.

Lange.—The purpose of the investigation was to test the validity of the statement that the celluloses are not attacked by alkaline hydrates at 180 deg.. Experiments with pine wood yielded a series of percentages for cellulose varying from 36 to 41; the 'purified wood' gave also variable numbers, 44 to 49 per cent. It was found possible to limit these variations by altering the conditions in the later stages of isolating the product; but further experiments on the celluloses themselves previously isolated by other processes showed that they were profoundly and variably attacked by the 'Lange' treatment, wood cellulose losing 50 per cent. of its weight, and filter paper (cellulose) losing 15 per cent. Further, a specimen of jute yielded 58 per cent. of cellulose by this method instead of the normal 78 per cent. It was also found that the celluloses isolated by the process, when subjected to a second treatment, underwent a further large conversion into soluble derivatives, and in a third treatment further losses of 5-10 per cent were obtained. The authors attach value, notwithstanding, to the process which they state to yield an 'approximately pure cellulose,' and they describe a modified method embodying the improvements in detail resulting from their investigation.

Gabriel's method of heating with a glycerin solution of alkaline hydrate is a combination of 'Hoenig' and 'Lange.' An extended investigation showed as in the case of the latter that the celluloses themselves are more or less profoundly attacked by the treatment—further that the celluloses isolated from lignocelluloses and other complex raw materials are much 'less pure' than those obtained by the Lange process. Thus, notably in regard to furfural yielding constituents, the latter yield 1-2 p.ct. furfural, whereas specimens of 'jute cellulose' obtained by the Gabriel process were found to yield 9 to 13 p.ct. furfural.

Cross and Bevan.—Chlorination process yielded in the hands of the authors results confirming the figures given in 'Cellulose' for yield of cellulose. Investigation of the products for yield of furfural, gave 9 p.ct. of this aldehyde showing the presence of celluloses, other than the normal type.

Conclusions.—The subjoined table gives the mean numerical results for yield of end-product or 'cellulose' by the various methods. In the case of the 'celluloses' the results are those of the further action of the several processes on the end-product of a previous process.

Methods F. Schulze Weende Lange Gabriel Cross and Bevan Wood cellulose 98.51 91.52 48.22 55.93 Filter paper cellulose 99.62 95.63 78.17 79.77 Swedish filter paper 96.58 84.76 Ordinary filter paper 98.17 93.39 86.58 Cotton ('wool') 98.38 89.98 63.96 67.88 Jute 57.93 71.64 75.27 Purified wood {49.27 {46.56 Raw wood 47.60 {40.82 {38.87

The final conclusion drawn from the results is that none of the processes fulfil the requirements of an ideal method. Those which may be carried out in a reasonably short time are deficient in two directions: (1) they yield a 'cellulose' containing more or less oxycellulose; (2) the celluloses themselves are attacked under the conditions of treatment, and the end product or cellulose merely represents a particular and at the same time variable equilibrium, as between the resistance of the cellulose and the attack of the reagents employed; this attack being by no means confined to the non-cellulose constituents. Schulze's method appears to give the nearest approximation to the 'actual cellulose' of the raw material.

* * * * *

(p. 8) SOLUTIONS OF CELLULOSE—(1) ZINC CHLORIDE.—To prepare a homogeneous solution of cellulose by means of the neutral chloride, a prolonged digestion at or about 100 deg. with the concentrated reagent is required. The dissolution of the cellulose is not a simple phenomenon, but is attended with hydrolysis and a certain degree of condensation. The latter result is evidenced by the formation of furfural, the former by the presence of soluble carbohydrates in the solution obtained by diluting the original solution and filtering from the reprecipitated cellulose. The authors have observed that in carefully conducted experiments cotton cellulose may be dissolved in the reagent, and reprecipitated with a loss of only 1 p.ct. in weight. This, however, is a 'net' result, and leaves undetermined the degree of hydration of the recovered cellulose as of hydrolysis of the original to groups of lower molecular weights. Bronnert finds that a previous hydration of the cellulose—e.g. by the process of alkaline mercerisation and removal of the alkali by washing—enables the zinc chloride to effect its dissolution by digestion in the cold. (U.S. patent, 646,799/1900. See also p. 59.)

Industrial applications.—(a) Vulcanised fibre is prepared by treating paper with four times its weight of the concentrated aqueous solution (65-75 deg. B.), and in the resulting gelatinised condition is worked up into masses, blocks, sheets, &c., of any required thickness. The washing of these masses to remove the zinc salt is a very lengthy operation.

To render the product waterproof the process of nitration is sometimes superadded [D.R.P. 3181/1878]. Further details of manufacture are given in Prakt. Handbuch d. Papierfabrikation, p. 1703 [C. Hofmann].

(b) Calico-printing.—The use of the solution as a thickener or colour vehicle, more especially as a substitute for albumen in pigment styles, was patented by E. B. Manby, but the process has not been industrially developed [E.P. 10,466/1894].

(c) Artificial silk.—This is a refinement of the earlier applications of the solution in spinning cellulose threads for conversion into carbon filaments for electrical glow-lamps. This section will be found dealt with on p. 59.

(p. 13) (2) Cuprammonium solution.—The application of the solution of cellulose in cuprammonium to the production of a fine filament in continuous length, 'artificial silk,' has been very considerably studied and developed in the period 1897-1900, as evidenced by the series of patents of Fremery and Urban, Pauly, Bronnert, and others. The subject will also be found dealt with on p. 58.

* * * * *

(p. 15) Reactions of cellulose with iodine.—In a recent paper, F. Mylius deals with the reaction of starch and cellulose with iodine, pointing out that the blue colouration depends upon the presence of water and iodides. In absence of the latter, and therefore in presence of compounds which destroy or absorb hydriodic acid—e.g. iodic acid—there results a brown addition product. The products in question have the characteristics of solid solutions of the halogen. (Berl. Ber. 1895, 390.)

(24) Mercerisation—Notwithstanding the enormous recent developments in the industrial application of the mercerising reaction, there have been no noteworthy contributions to the theoretical aspects of the subject. The following abstract gives an outline of the scope of an important technical work on the subject.


PAUL GARDNER (Berlin: 1898. J. Springer).


This monograph of some 150 pages is chiefly devoted to the patent literature of the subject. The chemical and physical modifications of the cotton substance under the action of strong alkaline lye, were set forth by Mercer in 1844-5, and there has resulted from subsequent investigations but little increase in our knowledge of the fundamental facts. The treatment was industrially developed by Mercer in certain directions, chiefly (1) for preparing webs of cloth required to stand considerable strain, and (2) for producing crepon effects by local or topical action of the alkali. But the results achieved awakened but a transitory interest, and the matter passed into oblivion; so much so, indeed, that a German patent [No. 30,966] was granted in 1884 to the Messrs. Depouilly for crepon effects due to the differential shrinkage of fabrics under mercerisation, by processes and treatments long previously described by Mercer. Such effects have had a considerable vogue in recent years, but it was not until the discovery of the lustreing effect resulting from the association of the mercerising actions with the condition of strain or tension of the yarn or fabric that the industry in 'mercerised' goods was started on the lines which have led to the present colossal development. The merit of this discovery is now generally recognised as belonging to Thomas and Prevost of Crefeld, notwithstanding that priority of patent right belongs to the English technologist, H. A. Lowe.

The author critically discusses the grounds of the now celebrated patent controversy, arising out of the conflict of the claims of German patent 85,564/1895 of the former, and English patent 4452/1890 of the latter. The author concludes that Lowe's specification undoubtedly describes the lustreing effect of mercerising in much more definite terms than that of Thomas and Prevost. These inventors, on the other hand, realised the effect industrially, which Lowe certainly failed to do, as evidenced by his allowing the patent to lapse. As an explanation of his failure, the author suggests that Lowe did not sufficiently extend his observations to goods made from Egyptian and other long-stapled cottons, in which class only are the full effects of the added lustre obtained.

Following these original patents are the specifications of a number of inventions which, however, are of insignificant moment so far as introducing any essential variation of the mercerising treatment.

The third section of the work describes in detail the various mechanical devices which have been patented for carrying out the treatment on yarn and cloth.

The fourth section deals with the fundamental facts underlying the process and effects summed up in the term 'mercerisation.' These are as follows:—

(a) Although all forms of fibrous celluloses are similarly affected by strong alkaline solutions, it is only the Egyptian and other long-stapled cottons—i.e. the goods made from them—which under the treatment acquire the special high lustre which ranks as 'silky.' Goods made from American cottons acquire a certain 'finish' and lustre, but the effects are not such as to have an industrial value—i.e. a value proportional to the cost of treatment.

(b) The lustre is determined by exposing the goods to strong tension, either when under the action of the alkali, or subsequently, but only when the cellulose is in the special condition of hydration which is the main chemical effect of the mercerising treatment.

(c) The degree of tension required is approximately that which opposes the shrinkage in dimensions, otherwise determined by the action of the alkali. The following table exhibits the variations of shrinkage of Egyptian when mercerised without tension, under varying conditions as regards the essential factors of the treatment—viz. (1) concentration of the alkaline lye, (2) temperature, and (3) duration of action (the latter being of subordinate moment):—

Concentration of lye (NaOH) 5 deg.B. 10 deg.B. 15 deg.B 25 deg.B Duration of action in 1 10 30 1 10 30 1 10 30 minutes Temperatures Percentage shrinkages (Egyptian yarns) as under: as under: 2 deg. 0 0 0 1 1 1 12.2 15.2 15.8 19.2 18 deg. 0 0 0 0 0 0 8.0 8.8 11.8 19.8 30 deg. 0 0 0 0 0 0 4.6 4.6 6.0 19.0 80 deg. 0 0 0 0 0 0 3.5 3.5 9.8 13.4 Concentration of lye (NaOH) 25 deg.B 30 deg.B 35 deg.B Duration of action in 10 30 1 10 30 1 10 30 minutes Temperatures Percentage shrinkages (Egyptian yarns) as under: as under: 2 deg. 19.8 21.5 22.7 22.7 22.7 24.2 24.5 24.7 18 deg. 20.1 21.0 21.2 22.0 22.3 23.5 23.8 24.7 30 deg. 19.5 19.0 18.5 19.5 19.8 20.7 21.0 21.1 80 deg. 13.7 14.2 15.0 15.1 15.5 15.0 15.2 15.4

The more important general indications of the above results are—(1) The mercerisation action commences with a lye of 10 deg.B., and increases with increased strength of the lye up to a maximum at 35 deg.B. There is, however, a relatively slight increase of action with the increase of caustic soda from 30-40 deg.B. (2) For optimum action the temperature should not exceed 15-20 deg.C. (3) The duration of action is of proportionately less influence as the concentration of the lye increases. As the maximum effect is attained the action becomes practically instantaneous, the only condition affecting it being that of penetration—i.e. actual contact of cellulose and alkali.

(d) The question as to whether the process of 'mercerisation' involves chemical as well as physical effects is briefly discussed. The author is of opinion that, as the degree of lustre obtained varies with the different varieties of cotton, the differentiation is occasioned by differences in chemical constitution of these various cottons. The influence of the chemical factors is also emphasised by the increased dyeing capacity of the mercerised goods, which effect, moreover, is independent of those conditions of strain or tension under mercerisation which determine lustre. It is found in effect that with a varied range of dye stuffs a given shade is produced with from 10 to 30 p.ct. less colouring matter than is required for the ordinary, i.e. unmercerised, goods.

In reference to the constants of strength and elasticity, Buntrock gives the following results of observations upon a 40^{5} twofold yarn, five threads of 50 cm. length being taken for each test(Prometheus, 1897, p. 690): (a) the original yarn broke under a load of 1440 grms.; (b) after mercerisation without tension the load required was 2420 grms.; (c) after mercerisation under strain, 1950 grms. Mercerisation, therefore, increases the strength of the yarn from 30 to 66 p.ct., the increase being lessened proportionately to the strain accompanying mercerisation. Elasticity, as measured by the extension under the breaking load, remains about the same in yarns mercerised under strain, but when allowed to shrink under mercerisation there is an increase of 30-40 p.ct. over the original.

The change of form sustained by the individual fibres has been studied by H. Lange [Farberzeitung, 1898, 197-198], whose microphotographs of the cotton fibres, both in length and cross-section, are reproduced. In general terms, the change is from the flattened riband of the original fibre to a cylindrical tube with much diminished and rounded central canal. The effect of strain under mercerisation is chiefly seen in the contour of the surface, which is smooth, and the obliteration at intervals of the canal. Hence the increased transparency and more complete reflection of the light from the surface, and the consequent approximation to the optical properties of the silk fibre.

The work concludes with a section devoted to a description of the various practical systems of mercerisation of yarns in general practice in Germany, and an account of the methods adopted in dyeing the mercerised yarns.


A. FRAENKEL and P. FRIEDLAENDER (Mitt. k.-k. Techn. Gew. Mus., Wien, 1898, 326).

The authors, after investigation, are inclined to attribute the lustre of mercerised cotton to the absence of the cuticle, which is destroyed and removed in the process, partly by the chemical action of the alkali, and partly by the stretching at one or other stage of the process. The authors have investigated the action of alcoholic solutions of soda also. The lustre effects are not obtained unless the action of water is associated.

In conclusion, the authors give the following particulars of breaking strains and elasticity:—

Treatment Experiments Breaking strain Elasticity Elongation Grammes in mm. Cotton unmercerised. 1 360 20 2 356 20 3 360 22 Mercerised with Soda 35 deg.B. 1 530 44 2 570 40 3 559 35 Alcoholic soda 10 p.ct. 1 645 24 cold 2 600 27 3 610 33 Alcoholic soda 10 p.ct. 5 740 33 hot 2 730 38 3 690 30


[2] This and other similar references are to the matter of the original volume (1895).


(p. 25) Cellulose sulphocarbonate.—Further investigations of the reaction of formation as well as the various reactions of decomposition of the compound, have not contributed any essential modification or development of the subject as originally described in the author's first communications. A large amount of experimental matter has been accumulated in view of the ultimate contribution of the results to the general theory of colloidal solutions. But viscose is a complex product and essentially variable, through its pronounced tendency to progressive decomposition with reversion of the cellulose to its insoluble and uncombined condition. The solution for this reason does not lend itself to exact measurement of its physical constants such as might elucidate in some measure the progressive molecular aggregation of the cellulose in assuming spontaneously the solid (hydrate) form. Reserving the discussion of these points, therefore, we confine ourselves to recording results which further elucidate special points.

Normal and other celluloses.—We may certainly use the sulphocarbonate reaction as a means of defining a normal cellulose. As already pointed out, cotton cellulose passes quantitatively through the cycle of treatments involved in solution as sulphocarbonate and decomposition of the solution with regeneration as structureless or amorphous cellulose (hydrate).

Analysis of this cellulose shows a fall of carbon percentage from 44.4 to 43.3, corresponding with a change in composition from C_{6}H_{10}O_{5} to 4C_{6}H_{10}O_{5}.H_{2}O. The partial hydrolysis affects the whole molecule, and is limited to this effect, whereas, in the case of celluloses of other types, there is a fractionation of the mass, a portion undergoing a further hydrolysis to compounds of lower molecular weight and permanently soluble. Thus in the case of the wood celluloses the percentage recovered from solution as viscose is from 93 to 95 p.ct. It is evident that these celluloses are not homogeneous. A similar conclusion results from the presence of furfural-yielding compounds with the observation that the hydrolysis to soluble derivatives mainly affects these derivatives. In the empirical characterisation of a normal cellulose, therefore, we may include the property of quantitative regeneration or recovery from its solution as sulphocarbonate.

In the use of the word 'normal' as applied to a 'bleached' cotton, we have further to show in what respects the sulphocarbonate reaction differentiates the bleached or purified cotton cellulose from the raw product. The following experiments may be cited: Specimens of American and Egyptian cottons in the raw state, freed from mechanical, i.e. non-fibrous, impurities, were treated with a mercerising alkali, and the alkali-cotton subsequently exposed to carbon disulphide. The product of reaction was further treated as in the preparation of the ordinary solution; but in place of the usual solution, structureless and homogeneous, it was observed to retain a fibrous character, and the fibres, though enormously swollen, were not broken down by continued vigorous stirring. After large dilution the solutions were filtered, and the fibres then formed a gelatinous mass on the filters. After purification, the residue was dried and weighed. The American cotton yielded 90.0 p.ct., and the Egyptian 92.0 p.ct. of its substance in the form of this peculiar modification. The experiment was repeated, allowing an interval of 24 hours to elapse between the conversion into alkali-cotton and exposure of this to the carbon disulphide. The quantitative results were identical.

There are many observations incidental to chemical treatments of cotton fabrics which tend to show that the bleaching process produces other effects than the mere removal of mechanical impurities. In the sulphocarbonate reaction the raw cotton, in fact, behaves exactly as a compound cellulose. Whether the constitutional difference between raw and bleached cotton, thus emphasised, is due to the group of components of the raw cotton, which are removed in the bleaching process, or to internal constitutional changes determined by the bleaching treatments, is a question which future investigation must decide.

The normal sulphocarbonate (viscose).—In the industrial applications of viscose it is important to maintain a certain standard of composition as of the essential physical properties of the solution, notably viscosity. It may be noted first that, with the above-mentioned exception, the various fibrous celluloses show but slight differences in regard to all the essential features of the reactions involved. In the mercerising reaction, or alkali-cellulose stage, it is true the differences are considerable. With celluloses of the wood and straw classes there is a considerable conversion into soluble alkali-celluloses. If treated with water these are dissolved, and on weighing back the cellulose, after thorough washing, treatment with acid, and finally washing and drying, it will be found to have lost from 15 to 20 p.ct. in weight. The lower grade of celluloses thus dissolved are only in part precipitated in acidifying the alkaline solution. On the other hand, after conversion into viscose, the cellulose when regenerated re-aggregates a large proportion of these lower grade celluloses, and the final loss is as stated above, from 5 to 7 p.ct. only.

Secondly, it is found that all the conditions obtaining in the alkali-cellulose stage affect the subsequent viscose reaction and the properties of the final solution. The most important are obviously the proportion of alkali to cellulose and the length of time they are in contact before being treated with carbon disulphide. An excess of alkali beyond the 'normal' proportion—viz. 2NaOH per 1 mol. C_{6}H_{10}O_{5}—has little influence upon the viscose reaction, but lowers the viscosity of the solution of the sulphocarbonate prepared from it. But this effect equally follows from addition of alkali to the viscose itself. The alkali-cellulose changes with age; there is a gradual alteration of the molecular structure of the cellulose, of which the properties of the viscose when prepared are the best indication. There is a progressive loss of viscosity of the solution, and a corresponding deterioration in the structural properties of the cellulose when regenerated from it—especially marked in the film form. In regard to viscosity the following observations are typical:—

(a) A viscose of 1.8 p.ct. cellulose prepared from an alkali-cellulose (cotton) fourteen days old.

(b) Viscose of 1.8 p.ct. cellulose from an alkali-cellulose (cotton) three days old.

(c) Glycerin diluted with 1/3 vol. water.

a b b c Diluted with equal vol. water Times of flow of equal volumes from 112 321 103 170 narrow orifice in seconds

Similarly the cellulose in reverting to the solid form from these 'degraded' solutions presents a proportionate loss of cohesion and aggregating power expressed by the inferior strength and elasticity of the products. Hence, in the practical applications of the product where the latter properties are of first importance, it is necessary to adopt normal standards, such as above indicated, and to carefully regulate all the conditions of treatment in each of the two main stages of reaction, so that a product of any desired character may be invariably obtained.

Incidentally to these investigations a number of observations have been made on the alkali-cellulose (cotton) after prolonged storage in closed vessels. It is well known that starch undergoes hydrolysis in contact with aqueous alkalis of a similar character to that determined by acids [Bechamp, Annalen, 100, 365]. The recent researches of Lobry de Bruyn [Rec. Trav. Chim. 14, 156] upon the action of alkaline hydrates in aqueous solution on the hexoses have established the important fact of the resulting mobility of the CO group, and the interchangeable relationships of typical aldoses and ketoses. It was, therefore, not improbable that profound hydrolytic changes should occur in the cellulose molecule when kept for prolonged periods as alkali-cellulose.

We may cite an extreme case. A series of products were examined after 12-18 months' storage. They were found to contain only 3-5 p.ct. 'soluble carbohydrates'; these were precipitated by Fehling's solution but without reduction on boiling. They were, therefore, of the cellulose type. On acidifying with sulphuric acid and distilling, traces only of volatile acid were produced. It is clear, therefore, that the change of molecular weight of the cellulose, the disaggregation of the undoubtedly large molecule of the original 'normal' cellulose—which effects are immediately recognised in the viscose reactions of such products—are of such otherwise limited character that they do not affect the constitution of the unit groups. We should also conclude that the cellulose type of constitution covers a very wide range of minor variations of molecular weight or aggregation.

The resistance of the normal cellulose to the action of alkalis under these hydrolysing conditions should be mentioned in conjunction with the observations of Lange, and the results of the later investigations of Tollens, on its resistance to 'fusion' with alkaline hydrates at high temperatures (180 deg.). The degree of resistance has been established only on the empirical basis of weighing the product recovered from such treatment. The product must be investigated by conversion into typical cellulose derivatives before we can pronounce upon the constitutional changes which certainly occur in the process. But for the purpose of this discussion it is sufficient to emphasise the extraordinary resistance of the normal cellulose to the action of alkalis, and to another of the more significant points of differentiation from starch.

Chemical constants of cellulose sulphocarbonate (solution).—In investigations of the solutions we make use of various analytical methods, which may be briefly described, noting any results bearing upon special points.

_Total alkali._—This constant is determined by titration in the usual way. The cellulose ratio, C_{6}H_{10}O_{5} : 2NaOH, is within the ordinary error of observation, 2 : 1 by weight. A determination of alkali therefore determines the percentage of cellulose.

Cellulose may be regenerated in various ways—viz. by the action of heat, of acids, of various oxidising compounds. It is purified for weighing by boiling in neutral sulphite of soda (2 p.ct. solution) to remove sulphur, and in very dilute acids (0.33 p.ct. HCl) to decompose residues of 'organic' sulphur compounds. It may also be treated with dilute oxidants. After weighing it may be ignited to determine residual inorganic compounds.

_Sulphur._—It has been proved by Lindemann and Motten [Bull. Acad. R. Belg. (3), 23, 827] that the sulphur of sulphocarbonates (as well as of sulphocyanides) is fully oxidised (to SO_{3}) by the hypochlorites (solutions at ordinary temperatures). The method may be adapted as required for any form of the products or by-products of the viscose reaction to be analysed for _total sulphur_.

The sulphur present in the form of dithiocarbonates, including the typical cellulose xanthogenic acid, is approximately isolated and determined as CS_{2} by adding a zinc salt in excess, and distilling off the carbon disulphide from a water bath. From freshly prepared solutions a large proportion of the disulphide originally interacting with the alkali and cellulose is recovered, the result establishing the general conformity of the reaction to that typical of the alcohols. On keeping the solutions there is a progressive interaction of the bisulphide and alkali, with formation of trithiocarbonates and various sulphides. In decomposing these products by acid reagents hydrogen sulphide and free sulphur are formed, the estimation of which presents no special difficulties.

In the spontaneous decomposition of the solution a large proportion of the sulphur resumes the form of the volatile disulphide. This is approximately measured by the loss in total sulphur in the following series of determinations, in which a viscose of 8.5 p.ct. strength (cellulose) was dried down as a thin film upon glass plates, and afterwards analysed:

(a) Proportion of sulphur to cellulose (100 pts.) in original. (b) After spontaneous drying at ordinary temperature. (c) After drying at 40 deg.C. (d) As in (c), followed, by 2 hours' heating at 98 deg.. (e) As in (c), followed by 5 hours' heating at 98 deg..

a b c d e Total sulphur 40.0 25.0 31.0 23.7 10.4

The dried product in (b) and (c) was entirely resoluble in water; in (d) and (e), on the other hand, the cellulose was fully regenerated, and obtained as a transparent film.

Iodine reaction.—Fresh solutions of the sulphocarbonate show a fairly constant reaction with normal iodine solution. At the first point, where the excess of iodine visibly persists, there is complete precipitation of the cellulose as the bixanthic sulphide; and this occurs when the proportion of iodine added reaches 3I{2} : 4Na{2}O, calculated to the total alkali.

Other decompositions.—The most interesting is the interaction which occurs between the cellulose xanthogenate and salts of ammonia, which is taken advantage of by C. H. Stearn in his patent process of spinning artificial threads from viscose. The insoluble product which is formed in excess of the solution of ammonia salt is free from soda, and contains 9-10 p.ct. total sulphur. The product retains its solubility in water for a short period. The solution may be regarded as containing the ammonium cellulose xanthate. This rapidly decomposes with liberation of ammonia and carbon disulphide, and separation of cellulose (hydrate). As precipitated by ammonium-chloride solution the gelatinous thread contains 15 p.ct. of cellulose, with a 1.1. The process of 'fixing'—i.e. decomposing the xanthic residue—consists in a short exposure to the boiling saline solution. The further dehydration, with increase of gravity and cellulose content, is not considerable. The thread in its final air-dry state has a 1.48.

* * * * *

Cellulose Benzoates.—These derivatives have been further studied by the authors. The conditions for the formation of the monobenzoate [C_{6}H_{9}O_{4}.O.CO.Ph] are very similar to those required for the sulphocarbonate reaction. The fibrous cellulose (cotton), treated with a 10 p.ct. solution NaOH, and subsequently with benzoyl chloride, gives about 50 p.ct. of the theoretical yield of monobenzoate. Converted by 20 p.ct. solution NaOH into alkali-cellulose, and with molecular proportions as below, the following yields were obtained:—

Calc. for Monobenzoate (a) C{6}H{10}O{5} : 2.0-2.5 NaOH : C{6}H{5}.COCl— 150.8} }164.0 (b) C{6}H{10}O{5} : 2.0-2.5 NaOH : 1.5 mol. C{6}H{5}COCl 159.0}

An examination of (a) showed that some dibenzoate (about 7 p.ct.) had been formed. The product () was exhaustively treated with cuprammonium solution, to which it yielded about 20 p.ct. of its weight, which was therefore unattacked cellulose.

Under conditions as above, but with 2.5 mol. C{6}H{5}COCl, a careful comparison was made of the behaviour of the three varieties of cotton, which were taken in the unspun condition and previously fully bleached and purified.

Sea Island Egyptian American Aggregate yield of benzoate 153 148 152 Moisture in air dry state 5.28 5.35 5.15 Proportion of dibenzoate p.ct. 8.30 13.70 9.4 Yield of cellulose by 58.0 54.0 58.3 saponification

It appears from these results that the benzoate reaction may proceed to a higher limit (dibenzoate) in the case of Egyptian cotton. This would necessarily imply a higher limit of 'mercerisation,' under equal conditions of treatment with the alkaline hydrate. It must be noted that in the conversion of the fibrous cellulose into these (still) fibrous monobenzoates, there are certain mechanical conditions imported by the structural features of the ultimate fibres. For the elimination of the influence of this factor a large number of quantitative comparisons will be necessary. The above results are therefore only cited as typical of a method of comparative investigation, more especially of the still open questions of the cause of the superior effects in mercerisation of certain cottons (see p. 23). It is quite probable that chemical as well as structural factors co-operate in further differentiating the cottons.

Further investigation of the influence upon the benzoate reaction, of increase of concentration of the soda lye, used in the preliminary alkali cellulose reaction, from 20 to 33 p.ct. NaOH, established (1) that there is no corresponding increase in the benzoylation, and (2) that this ester reaction and the sulphocarbonate reaction are closely parallel, in that the degree and limit of reaction are predetermined by the conditions of formation of the alkali cellulose.

Monobenzoate prepared as above described is resistant to all solvents of cellulose and of the cellulose esters, and is therefore freed from cellulose by treatment with the former, and from the higher benzoate by treatment with the latter. Several of these, notably pyridine, phenol and nitrobenzene, cause considerable swelling and gelatinisation of the fibres, but without solution.

Structureless celluloses of the 'normal' type, and insoluble therefore in alkaline lye, treated under similar conditions to those described above for the fibrous celluloses, yield a higher proportion of dibenzoate. The following determinations were made with the cellulose (hydrate) regenerated from the sulphocarbonate:—

Mol. proportions of reagents Yield Dibenzoate p.ct. C_{6}H_{10}O_{5} : 2NaOH : 2BzCl 145 34.7 [Caustic soda at 10 per cent. NaOH]

C_{6}H_{10}O_{5} : 4NaOH : 2BzCl 162 62.7 [Caustic soda at 20 per cent. NaOH]

Limit of reaction.—The cellulose in this form having shown itself more reactive, it was taken as the basis for determining the maximum proportion of OH groups yielding to this later reaction. The systematic investigations of Skraup [Monatsh. 10, 389] have determined that as regards the interacting groups the molecular proportions 1 OH : 7 NaOH : 5 BzCl, ensure complete or maximum esterification. The maximum of OH groups in cellulose being 4, the reagents were taken in the proportion C{6}H{10}O{5} : 4 [7 NaOH : 5 BzCl]. The yield of crude product, after purifying as far as possible from the excess of benzoic acid, was 240 p.ct. [calculated for dibenzoate 227 p.ct.]. On further investigating the crude product by treatment with solvents, it was found to have still retained benzoic acid. There was also present a proportion of only partially attacked cellulose (monobenzoate). The soluble benzoate amounted to 90 p.ct. of the product. It may be generally concluded that the dibenzoate represents the normal maximum but that with the hydrated and partly hydrolysed cellulose molecule, as obtained by regeneration from the sulphocarbonate, other OH groups may react, but they are only a fractional proportion in relation to the unit group C{6}H{10}O{5}. In this respect again there is a close parallelism between the sulphocarbonate and benzoyl-ester reactions.

The dibenzoate, even when prepared from the fibrous celluloses, is devoid of structure, and its presence in admixture with the fibrous monobenzoate is at once recognised as it constitutes a structureless incrustation. Under the microscope its presence in however minute proportion is readily observed. As stated it is soluble in certain of the ordinary solvents of the cellulose esters, e.g. chloroform, acetic acid, nitrobenzene, pyridine, and phenol. It is not soluble in ether or alcohol.

Hygroscopic moisture of benzoates.—The crude monobenzoate retains 5.0-5.5 p.ct. moisture in the air-dry condition. After removal of the residual cellulose this is reduced to 3.3 p.ct. under ordinary atmospheric conditions. The purified dibenzoates retain 1.6 p.ct. under similar conditions.

Analysis of benzoates.—On saponification of these esters with alcoholic sodium hydrate, anomalous results are obtained. The acid numbers, determined by titration in the usual way, are 10-20 p.ct. in excess of the theoretical, the difference increasing with the time of boiling. Similarly the residual cellulose shows a deficiency of 5-9 p.ct.

It is by no means improbable that in the original ester reaction there is a constitutional change in the cellulose molecule causing it to break down in part under the hydrolysing treatment with formation of acid products. This point is under investigation. Normal results as regards acid numbers, on the other hand, are obtained by saponification with sodium ethylate in the cold, the product being digested with the half-saturated solution for 12 hours in a closed flask.

The following results with specimens of mono- and dibenzoate, purified, as far as possible, may be cited:

Combustion results Saponification results Calc. C{6}H{5}.COOH Calc. Cellulose Calc. Monobenzoate C 56.60 58.65} H 5.06 5.26} 46.0 45.9 58.0 60.8

Dibenzoate C 63.10 64.86} H 3.40 4.86} 65.5 66.6 34.3 40.3

The divergence of the numbers, especially for the dibenzoate, in the case of the hydrogen, and yield of cellulose on hydrolysis are noteworthy. They confirm the probability of the occurrence of secondary changes in the ester reactions.

_Action of nitrating acid upon the benzoates._—From the benzoates above described, mixed nitro-nitric esters are obtained by the action of the mixture of nitric and sulphuric acids. The residual OH groups of the cellulose are esterified and substitution by an NO_{2} group takes place in the aromatic residue, giving a mixed nitric nitrobenzoic ester. The analysis of the products points to the entrance of 1 NO_{2} group in the benzoyl residue in either case; in the cellulose residue 1 OH readily reacts. Higher degrees of nitration are attained by the process of solution in concentrated nitric acid and precipitation by pouring into sulphuric acid. In describing these mixed esters we shall find it necessary to adopt the C_{12} unit formula.

In analysing these products we have employed the Dumas method for total nitrogen. For the O.NO{2} groups we have found the nitrometer and the Schloesing methods to give concordant results. For the NO{2} groups it was thought that Limpricht's method, based upon reduction with stannous chloride in acid solution (HCl), would be available. The quantitative results, however, were only approximate, owing to the difficulty of confining the reduction to the NO{2} groups of the nitrobenzoyl residue. By reduction with ammonium sulphide the O.NO{2} groups were entirely removed as in the case of the cellulose nitrates; the NO{2} was reduced to NH{2} and there resulted a cellulose amidobenzoate, which was diazotised and combined with amines and phenols to form yellow and red colouring matters, the reacting residue remaining more or less firmly combined with the cellulose.

_Cellulose dinitrate-dinitrobenzoate, and cellulose trinitrate-dinitrobenzoate._—On treating the fibrous benzoate—which is a dibenzoate on the C_{12} basis—with the acid mixture under the usual conditions, a yellowish product is obtained, with a yield of 140-142 p.ct. The nitrobenzoate is insoluble in ether alcohol, but is soluble in acetone, acetic acid, and nitrobenzene. In purifying the product the former solvent is used to remove any cellulose nitrates. To obtain the maximum combination with nitroxy-groups, the product was dissolved in concentrated nitric acid, and the solution poured into sulphuric acid.

The following analytical results were obtained (a) for the product obtained directly from the fibrous benzoate and purified as indicated, (b) for the product from the further treatment of (a) as described:

Found Calc. for (a) (b) Dinitrate Trinitrate dinitrobenzoate dinitrobenzoate Total Nitrogen 7.84 8.97 7.99 9.24 O.NO{2} " 5.00 5.45 4.00 5.54 NO{2} (Aromatic) 2.84 3.52 3.99 3.70

With the two benzoyl groups converted into nitro-benzoyl in each product, the limit of the ester reaction with the cellulose residue is reached at the third OH group.

The nitrogen in the amidobenzoate resulting from the reduction with ammonium sulphide was 4.5 p.ct.—as against 5.0 p.ct. calculated. The moisture retained by the fibrous nitrate—nitrobenzoate—in the air-dry state was found to be 1.97 p.ct.

The product from the structureless dibenzoate or tetrabenzoate on the C_{12} formula, was prepared and analysed with the following results:

Calc. for Mononitrate tetranitrobenzoate Total Nitrogen 6.76 7.25 O.NO{2} " 1.30 1.45 NO{2} " (Aromatic) 5.46 5.80

The results were confirmed by the yield of product, viz. 131 p.ct. as against the calculated 136 p.ct. They afford further evidence of the generally low limit of esterification of the cellulose molecule. From the formation of a 'normal' tetracetate—i.e. octacetate of the C_{12} unit—we conclude that 4/5 of the oxygen atoms are hydroxyl oxygen. Of the 8 OH groups five only react in the mixed esters described above, and six only in the case of the simple nitric esters. The ester reactions are probably not simple, but accompanied by secondary reactions within the cellulose molecule.

* * * * *

(p. 34) Cellulose Acetates.—In the first edition (p. 35) we have committed ourselves to the statement that 'on boiling cotton with acetic anhydride and sodium acetate no reaction occurs.' This is erroneous. The error arises, however, from the somewhat vague statements of Schutzenberger's researches which are current in the text-books [e.g. Beilstein, 1 ed. p. 586] together with the statement that reaction only occurs at elevated temperatures (180 deg.). As a matter of fact, reaction takes place at the boiling temperature of the anhydride. We have obtained the following results with bleached cotton:

Yield Calc. for Monoacetate C_{6}H_{7}O_{4}O.C_{2}H_{3}O

Ester reaction 121 p.ct. 125 p.ct.

{Cellulose 79.9 79.9 Saponification { {Acetic acid 29.9 29.4

This product is formed without apparent structural alteration of the fibre. It is entirely insoluble in all the ordinary solvents of the higher acetates. Moreover, it entirely resists the actions of the special solvents of cellulose—e.g. zinc chloride and cuprammonium. The compound is in other respects equally stable and inert. The hygroscopic moisture under ordinary atmospheric conditions is 3.2 p.ct.

Tetracetate.—This product is now made on the manufacturing scale: it has yet to establish its industrial value.


W. WILL und P. LENZE (Berl. Ber., 1898, 68).


(p. 38) The authors have studied the nitric esters of a typical series of the now well-defined carbohydrates—pentoses, hexoses, both aldoses and ketoses—bioses and trioses, the nitrates being prepared under conditions designed to produce the highest degree of esterification. Starch, wood, gum, and cellulose were also included in the investigations. The products were analysed and their physical properties determined. They were more especially investigated in regard to temperatures of decomposition, which were found to lie considerably lower than that of the cellulose nitrates. They also show marked and variable instability at 50 deg. C. A main purpose of the inquiry was to throw light upon a probable cause of the instability of the cellulose nitrates, viz. the presence of nitrates of hydrolysed products or carbohydrates of lower molecular weight.

The most important results are these:

Monoses.—The aldoses are fully esterified, in the pentoses 4 OH, in the hexoses 5 OH groups reacting. The pentose nitrates are comparatively stable at 50 deg.; the hexose nitrates on the other hand are extremely unstable, showing a loss of weight of 30-40 p.ct. when kept 24 hours at this temperature.

Xylose is differentiated by tending to pass into an anhydride form (C_{5}H_{10}O_{5}-H_{2}O) under this esterification. When treated in fact with the mixed acids, instead of by the process usually adopted by the authors of solution in nitric acid and subsequent addition of the sulphuric acid, it is converted into the dinitrate C_{5}H_{6}O_{2}.(NO_{3})_{2}.

Ketoses (C{6}).—These are sharply differentiated from the corresponding aldoses by giving trinitrates C{6}H{7}O{2}(NO{3}){3} instead of pentanitrates, the remaining OH groups probably undergoing internal condensation. The products are, moreover, extremely stable. It is also noteworthy that levulose gave this same product, the trinitrate of the anhydride (levulosan) by both methods of nitration (supra).

The bisaccharides or bioses all give the octonitrates. The degree of instability is variable. Cane-sugar gives a very unstable nitrate. The lactose nitrate is more stable. Thus at 50 deg. it loses only 0.7 p.ct. in weight in eight days; at 75 deg. it loses 1 p.ct. in twenty-four hours, but with a rapid increase to 23 p.ct. in fifty-four hours. The maltose octonitrate melts (with decomposition) at a relatively high temperature, 163 deg.-164 deg.. At 50 deg.-75 deg. it behaves much like the lactose nitrate.

Trisaccharide.—Raffinose yielded the product


_Starch_ yields the hexanitrate (C_{12}) by both methods of nitration. The product has a high melting and decomposing point, viz. 184 deg., and when thoroughly purified is quite stable. It is noted that a yield of 157 p.ct. of this nitrate was obtained, and under identical conditions cellulose yielded 170 p.ct.

_Wood gum_, from beech wood, gave a tetranitrate (C_{10} formula) insoluble in all the usual solvents for this group of esters.

The authors point out in conclusion that the conditions of instability and decomposition of the nitrates of the monose-triose series are exactly those noted with the cellulose nitrates as directly prepared and freed from residues of the nitrating acids. They also lay stress upon the superior stability of the nitrates of the anhydrides, especially of the ketoses.


THOMAS BOKORNY (Chem. Zeit., 1896, 20, 985-986).

(p. 38) Cellulose trinitrate (nitrocellulose) will serve as a food supply for moulds when suspended in distilled water containing the requisite mineral matter and placed in the dark. The growth is rapid, and a considerable quantity of the vegetable growth accumulates round the masses of cellulose nitrate, but no growth is observed if mineral matter is absent. Cellulose itself cannot act as a food supply, and it seems probable that if glycerol is present cellulose nitrate is no longer made use of.


LEO VIGNON (Compt. rend., 1898, 126, 1658-1661).

(p. 38) Repeated treatment of cellulose, hydrocellulose, and oxycellulose with a mixture of sulphuric and nitric acids in large excess, together with successive analyses of the compounds produced, showed that the final product of the reaction corresponded, in each case, with the fixation of 11 NO groups by a molecule containing 24 atoms of carbon. On exposure to air, nitrohydrocellulose becomes yellow and decomposes; nitro-oxycellulose is rather more stable, whilst nitrocellulose is unaffected. The behaviour of these nitro-derivatives with Schiff's reagent, Fehling's solution, and potash show that all three possess aldehydic characters, which are most marked in the case of nitro-oxycellulose. The latter also, when distilled with hydrochloric acid, yields a larger proportion of furfuraldehyde than is obtained from nitrocellulose and nitrohydrocellulose.

* * * * *


(p. 38) The uses of the cellulose nitrates as a basis for explosives are limited by their fibrous character. The conversion of these products into the structureless homogeneous solid or semi-solid form has the effect of controlling their combustion. The use of nitroglycerin as an agent for this purpose gives the curious result of the admixture of two high or blasting explosives to produce a new explosive capable of extended use for military purposes. The leading representatives of this class of propulsive explosives, or 'smokeless powders' are ballistite and cordite, the technology of which will be found fully discussed in special manuals of the subject. Since the contribution of these inventions to the development of cellulose chemistry does not go beyond the broad, general facts above mentioned, we must refer the reader for technical details to the manuals in question.

There are, however, other means of arriving at structureless cellulose nitrates. One of these has been recently disclosed, and as the results involve chemical and technical points of novelty, which are dealt with in a scientific communication, we reproduce the paper in question, viz.:—


A. LUCK and C. F. CROSS (J. Soc. Chem. Ind., 1900).

The starting-point of these investigations was a study of the nitrates obtained from the structureless cellulose obtained from the sulphocarbonate (viscose). This cellulose in the form of a fine meal was treated under identical conditions with a sample of pure cotton cellulose, viz. digested for 24 hours in an acid mixture containing in 100 parts HNO{3}—24 : H{2}SO{4}—70 : H{2}O—6: the proportion of acid to cellulose being 60 : 1—. After careful purification the products were analysed with the following results:

Soluble in Nitrogen Ether alcohol

Fibrous nitrate 13.31 4.3 p.ct. Structureless nitrate 13.35 5.6 "

Examined by the 'heat test' (at 80 deg.) and the 'stability test' (at 135 deg.) they exhibited the usual instability, and in equal degrees. Nor were the tests affected by exhaustive treatment with ether, benzene, and alcohol. From this it appears that the process of solution as sulphocarbonate and regeneration of the cellulose, though it eliminates certain constituents of an ordinary bleached cellulose, which might be expected to cause instability, has really no effect in this direction. It also appears that instability may be due to by-products of the esterification process derived from the cellulose itself.

The investigation was then extended to liquids having a direct solvent action on these higher nitrates, more especially acetone. It was necessary, however, to avoid this solvent action proper, and having observed that dilution with water in increasing proportions produced a graduated succession of physical changes in the fibrous ester, we carried out a series of treatments with such diluted acetones. Quantities of the sample (A), purified as described, but still unstable, were treated each with five successive changes of the particular liquid, afterwards carefully freed from the acetone and dried at 40 deg.C. The products, which were found to be more or less disintegrated, were then tested by the ordinary heat test, stability test, and explosion test, with the results shown in the table on next page.

In this series of trials the sample 'A' was used in the condition of pulp, viz. as reduced by the process of wet-beating in a Hollander. A similar series was carried out with the guncotton in the condition in which it was directly obtained from the ester reaction. The results were similar to above, fully confirming the progressive character of the stabilisation with increasing proportions of acetone. These results prove that washing with the diluted acetone not only rendered the nitrate perfectly stable, but that the product was more stable than that obtained by the ordinary process of purification, viz. long-continued boiling and washing in water. We shall revert to this point after briefly dealing with the associated phenomenon of structural disintegration. This begins to be well marked when the proportion of acetone exceeds 80 p.ct. The optimum effect is obtained with mixtures of 90 to 93 acetone and 10 to 7 water (by volume). In a slightly diluted acetone of such composition, the guncotton is instantly attacked, the action being quite different from the gelatinisation which precedes solution in the undiluted solvent. The fibrous character disappears, and the product assumes the form of a free, bulky, still opaque mass, which rapidly sinks to the bottom of the containing vessel. The disintegration of the bulk of the nitrate is associated with

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