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EXPERIMENT Mercerising of Cotton THEORY Native cellulose (Cellulose I) forms alkali cellulose I with concentrated sodium hydroxide. On washing and neutralisation cellulose II is formed.
Cellulose I

C6H7O2(OH)3 + NaOH C6H7O2(OH)2(ONa)

Alkali cellulose I H2O

C6H7O2(OH)3 + NaOH
Cellulose II

As a result of the penetration of the alkali into the lattice, internal hydrogen bonds are broken and in Cellulose II the number of available hydroxyl groups (-OH) is increased by 25%. The process is commercially known as mercerisation. The treatment with alkali and subsequent washing may be performed so that the fabric or yarn may either freely contract or they may be held under tension. In both cases the mercerised cotton has an increased affinity for both reactive and direct cotton dyes, water and an increased strength. Cotton yarn or fabric mercerised without tension contracts, but if held under tension it retains its original dimensions and the lustre is increased. References. Mercerising, J.T Marsh. Dyeing and Chemical Technology of Textile Fibres. Trotman. The Dyeing of Cellulosic Fibres, Clifford Preston. Introduction to Texile Finishing, J.T.Marsh. Introduction to Textile Bleaching, J.T.Marsh. PROCEDURE (A)Mercerisation of fabric without tension - Weigh four pieces of cotton fabric (approximately 8cm x 8cm) to the nearest centigram (combined weight). Sew the edges of the fabric using an overlocker to prevent fraying. Wet out in water containing 1g/l wetting agent (sodium Sulphosuccinate) for 5 minutes, then squeeze to remove as much water as possible. Measure the mean length and breadth of two samples to obtain their initial areas. Immerse the two measured samples in a solution containing 30g sodium hydroxide per 100ml water for 15 minutes at room temperature. Remove the samples and retain the sodium hydroxide solution. Wash the samples thoroughly with water then neutralise in 400ml of 1% acetic acid solution 5 minutes at 40C. Rinse well and measure. Calculate the percentage reduction in area for each sample. Dye one alkali treated and one untreated sample together in a bath containing: 400ml water 10% sodium chloride (based on the weight of the fabric), 1% C.I. Direct Blue 189 (Solophenyl Turquoise Blue GRL) (based on the weight of the fabric). Raise the

temperature of the bath to 60C before introducing the fabric, raise to the boil and boil for 30 minutes. Rinse, dry and mount the samples for comparison. Take the two remaining samples and dry in the oven for 1 hour at 110C and weigh accurately after cooling in a desiccator. Allow the sample to condition in the laboratory atmosphere for 48hours or in a desiccator over saturated sodium nitrite. The atmosphere over the sodium nitrite will have a relative humidity of 66% at 20C Determine the percentage water absorption on the untreated and mercerised samples. Prepare a saturated solution of potassium iodide by dissolving 10g of potassium iodide into 10 ml of water and add 2g of iodine and shake well to effect solution. Take strips of untreated and mercerised fabric (from the water absorption determination) wet out in water, wash off and squeeze as much water as possible from the strips. Immerse these for 3seconds in the iodine potassium iodide solution and wash thoroughly with cold water. Mount and record the colour of each sample. (B)Mercerisation of yarn under tension - Take an approx. 5x5/8 inch hard glass testtube and cover the exterior with an evenly wound layer of cotton yarn to within 2cm of the open end. Wet out the yarn on the tube as in the previous experiment and remove the excess water with filter paper. Place about 30 ml of mercerising solution retained from experiment (A) in a 14x2.5cm hard glass boiling test-tube. Insert a testtube brush into the small test-tube. Using this as a handle insert the small test-tube and yarn into the boiling tube and treat for 15 minutes at room temperature with occasional agitation. Wash and neutralise the yarn as in (A) and allow to air-dry on the tube. Discard the sodium hydroxide solution. When dry remove the yarn from the tube and compare its appearance with that of the untreated yarn. Examine a few fibres from each under the microscope and sketch the differences between the mercerised and un-mercerised fibres. Compare the breaking load and extensibility of the untreated with the treated yarn and comment on your results.