Cellulose pulp made from a species of green seaweed can be used to produce paper, a new study finds1. The process doesn’t use any harmful chemicals, making it an eco-friendly alternative source of cellulose.
The world’s forests are destroyed as trees are cut down to extract cellulose, a basic raw material for making paper. To identify an alternative source of cellulose, scientists from the CSIR-Central Salt & Marine Chemicals Research Institute (CSIR-CSMCRI) in Gujarat extracted crude cellulose from Valoniopsis pachynema , a green seaweed and pulped it.
Both the moisture content and looseness of the pulp were very high. Unlike other wood-based pulps, the seaweed pulp contained chloride and sulphate salts that acted as fillers, which cause opacity, an essential property for paper suitable for writing.
Paper made from the seaweed pulp showed chemical properties and strength which similar to those of sheets prepared from non-wood pulps such as soft wood and bamboo.
Writing on the paper with lead pencil, ink and ball-point pens and highlighting with fluorescent pens did not show blurring or spreading of inks, even after long storage. Using the sheets in a laser printer was also successful.
“Besides making good-quality papers, the seaweed cellulose could also be used in food industry,” says lead researcher, Kamalesh Prasad from the CSIR-CSMCRI.