It is a regenerated cellulosic fibre and cellulose is the raw material for producing this man made fibre.
The raw material is obtained from a special variety of wood called spruce.
a. Purification of Cellulose:
The manufacture of viscose rayon starts with the purification of cellulose. Spruce trees are cut into timber. Their barks are removed and cut into pieces measuring 7/8" x 1/2" x 1/4". These pieces are treated with a solution of calcium bisulphite and cooked with steam under pressure for about 14 hours.
The cellulosic component of the wood is unaffected by this treatment, but the cementing material called lignin, which is present in the wood, is converted into its sulphonated compound which is soluble in water. This can be washed off, thereby purifying the remaining cellulose. This cellulose is treated with excess of water. After this it is treated with a bleaching agent (sod hypochlorite) and finally converted into paper boards or sheets. This is called wood pulp, which is normally purchased by the manufacturers of viscose rayon.
b. Conditioning of Wood Pulp:
The pulp sheets are cut by a guillotine to the required dimension and are kept in a special room. Air moves freely among the divisors by means of ventilatorys, the temperature is maintained at 30 deg celcius. In this way the desired moisture content can be had.
c. Steeping Process:
The conditioned wood pulp sheets are treated with caustic soda solution ( about 17.5%). It is called mercerising or steeping. The high DP cellulose (1000) is converted into soda cellulose. The sheets are allowed to soak (steep0 until they become dark brown in colour. This takes about 1-14 hours. The caustic soda solution is drained off and sheets are pressed to squeeze out excess caustic soda solution. 100 kg of sulphite pulp gives about 310 kg of soda cellulose.
4. Shredding or cutting process:
The wet, soft sheets of soda cellulose are passed through a shredding machine which cuts them into small bits. In 2-3 hours the sheets are broken into fine crumbs.
5. Ageing Process:
To obtain almost ideal solution of cellulose, the soda cellulose is stored in small galvanised drums for about 48 hours at 28 deg C. This process is called ageing process.The ageing process is essential. During This process, the DP od soda cellulose is decreased from 1000 to about 300 by oxygen present in the air, contained in the drum.
6. Churning Process or Xanthation:
After ageing, the crumbs of soda cellulose are transferred to rotating, air tight, hexagonal churners or mixers. Carbon disulphide ( 10% of the weight of the crumbs) is added to the mixer and churned together for 3 hours by rotating the mixers at a slow speed of 2 rev per minutes. Sodium cellulose xanthate is formed during this process and the colors of the product changes from white to reddish orange.
7. Mixing or dissolving Process:
The orange product i.e. sod.cell.xanthate is in the form of small balls. These fall into a mixer called dissover which is provided with a stirrer. A dilute solution of caustic soda is added, and the contents are stirred for 4-5 hours and at the same time, the dissovler is cooled. The sod.cell.xan. dissovles to give a clear brown thick liquor, similar to honey. This is called 'viscose' and it contains about 6.5% caustic soda and 7.5% cellulose.
8. Ripening Process:
This viscose solution requires to be ripened to give a solution having best spinning qualities. Ripening is carried by storing the viscose solution for 4-5 days at 10 to 18 deg. The viscosity of the solution first decreases and then rises to its original value. The ripened solutoin is filtered carefully and is now ready for spinning to produce viscose rayon filaments.
9. Spinning Process:
The viscose solution is forced through a spinnerette, having many fine holes ( 0.05-0.1mm) diameter. The spinnerette is submerged into a solution containing the following chemicals.
10% --> sulphuric acid, 18%- Sod sulphate, 1% - Zinc sulphate, 2% glucose, 69% water.
The spinning solution is kept at 40-45 deg celcius.
Sodium sulphate precipitates the dissoved sod. cell.xanthate. Sulphuric Acid converts xanthate into cellulose, carbon disulphide and sod. sulphate. the glucose is supposed to give softness and pliability to the filaments whereas zinc sulphate gives added strength.
The quality of viscose rayon filament formed depends upon:
1. The temperature of the spinning bath
2. The composition of the spinning bath.
3. The speed of coagulation
4. The period of immersion of the filament in the spinning bath.
5. The speed of spinning.
6. The stretch imparted to the filaments.
As a number of filaments emerge from the spinnerette, they are taken together to an eye at the surface of the spinning bath and then guided to two rollers from where they are wound on to a spindle.