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Basic Research On Cellulose May Result In Better Cigarette Filters

March 22, 1999

(Blacksburg, VA) -- The dissertation research of a Virginia Tech student has demonstrated how to change adsorption in cellulose fibers, helped describe the way molecules assemble, and been instrumental in the study of cotton's structure -- all the subject of papers being presented at the 217th American Chemical Society National Meeting on March 21-26 in Anaheim. Wood science and forest products doctoral student Ulrike Becker and her major professor, Wolfgang Glasser, studied the changes in self-assembly behavior of cellulose ester surfaces when fluorine (F) -containing substances were added. Specific cellulose derivatives with fluorine (F-terminated copolymers or F-esters) resulted in uniform self-assembly or "smart behavior."

"In other words, if you add fluorine in a specific way, you can change the adsorbency of cellulose ester fibers," says Glasser.

"We thought we were doing pretty basic research as part of Ulli's dissertation on 'Smart Surfaces in Wood Based Materials.' We thought we might be looking for a Teflon-like product," he said. "But the cigarette filter manufacturers saw immediate applicability. They think they can use the process to improve cigarette filters."

Cellulose acetate is used in cigarette filters. It is important that the fibers absorb various substances to prevent them from being inhaled. "Our research demonstrates that addition of fluorine-containing substances could change the surface properties dramatically," says Glasser.

Becker's talk on "Self-Assembly Behavior of Fluorine-containing Cellulose Esters" (BTEC#27), on Monday, March 22, at 9 a.m. in the Marriott, room Orange County 3, is part of the Biotechnology Secretariate Symposium on Polysaccharides.

Becker's dissertation work also advanced the research of Navzer D. Sachinvala and colleagues who are doing a detailed study of the structure of cotton. Sachinvala will present the work of researchers from the Southern Regional Research Center, the Hawaiian Agricultural Research Center, and Tulane University on Monday, March 22, at 9:05 a.m. in the West Coast Hotel, room Palm East (Cellulose, paper and textile #13).

Becker has received her Ph.D. and is working for Philip Morris Company in Richmond, Va.
Contact for more information:
Dr. Wolfgang Glasser at 540-231-4403 or
BEFORE FRIDAY, March 19, or after the conference.

Dr. Ulrike Becker's dissertation is available on the Internet at:

Virginia Tech

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