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The Chemistry of Bast Fibre 1


    IN a previous paper (see Chem. News, 43, 77, and Chem. Soc. Jour. xxxviii. 666) the authors established the following points:—The chemical similarity between the non-cellulose constituents of monocotyledonous and dicotyledonous fibres; the resolution of the jute fibre by chlorine into cellulose (using this word in a general sense), and the chloroderivative of an aromatic body, n{C19H18C14O9}; all bast fibres examined (flax, hemp, manilla, esparto, &c.) yielded a similar body; the reactions of this substance suggested the hypothesis that it was a complicated derivative of tetrachlorquinone; jute fibre was resolved by boiling dilute hydrochloric or sulphuric acid into a soluble carbohydrate and an insoluble compound of the aromatic body with the more stable form of the cellulose; dilute nitric acid resolves the fibre into cellulose and a nitroderivative of the aromatic constituents n{C25H31(NO2)O23H8}; no constituent of the nature of pectose was found. From these facts the authors drew the conclusion that jute fibre consists of cellulose intimately associated with a complicated body allied to the quinones, in fact, a cellulide after the type of the glucosides, the aromatic body being united to cellulose in place of glucose. They also observed that the chlorinated body, when treated with a solution of sodium sulphite, develops a magnificent purple colour; this reaction was applied for the detection of bast fibres. In the present paper the authors have continued this line of research. To the aromatic constituent of the jute fibre the authors.assign the formula. C19H22O9. The resemblance of this formula to that of catechin, C19H18O8, 3H2O, suggested a comparative investigation of the latter substance; both catechin and catechutannic acid yielded a chlorine derivative resembling that mentioned above, which gave a brilliant magenta colour with sodium sulphite. Moreover, from a specimen of jute fibre which had become rotten through shipment in a damp state, a body was extracted having all the properties of a tannin. Esparto resin, when fused with potash, furnished phloroglucin and much protocatechuic acid. The general identity of these non cellulose constituents with the class of astringent substances or tannins is thus fully established.

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