Lightweight lignocellulosic fibrous materials (LLFMs) offer a sustainable and biodegradable alternative in many applications. Enthusiastic interest in these materials has recently grown together with the newly risen interest in foam forming. Foam bubbles restrain fiber flocculation, and foam formed structures have high uniformity. Moreover, the bubbles support the fibrous structure during manufacturing enabling the formation of highly porous structures. Mechanical pressure cannot be applied in the manufacture of LLFMs as the materials would lose their porous structure. Water is therefore typically removed by a combination of drainage and thermal drying. Thermal drying of porous materials has been studied intensively. However, there are only a few studies on the drainage of fiber-laden foams. Thus, in this work, we conducted a systematic analysis of this topic. Our findings show that after drainage a stationary vertical moisture profile similar to that of pure foams is developed. Raising the initial fiber consistency was found to increase the final fiber consistency of the foam until the drainage ceased. Increasing mold height was found to increase the final consistency considerably. Without vacuum and heating, the shrinkage of samples during drainage was only slightly higher than the volume of the drained water. Drainage rate and final consistency increased clearly with increasing vacuum, but simultaneously sample shrinkage increased considerably. The best compromise was obtained with a vacuum of 0.5 kPa, which increased the final consistency by 60% without extra shrinkage. Using warm foam and heating the foam during drainage increased the final consistency considerably, but this also led to significant shrinkage of the sample.
- fiber-laden foam
- foam forming
- lightweight cellulose materials
- lightweight fibrous structures