Ordinary rosin sizing agents are mixtures of resin acids that include abietic acid and related compounds obtained from softwoods such as pine. Fatty acids, which are another byproduct of the kraft pulping of softwood species, also may have hydrophobic effects, but their use as sizing agents has seldom been considered. In the current study, abietic acid and oleic acid, in the absence of other components, were first modified by reaction with maleic acid anhydride. Then, the maleated derivatives (maleated oleic acid [MOA] and maleated abietic acid [MAA]), which were emulsified with cationic starch at the 1:1 and 3:2 ratio, respectively, were added to fiber furnish containing aluminum sulfate (papermaker’s alum). The prepared sheets were dried with a rotating drum on one side at 100°C at low pressure to cure the sizing agents. The chemical, optical strength, and absorption properties were measured. The presence of the sizing material was confirmed using time of flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (ToF-SIMS), and the retention of the sizing agent on fibers was supported by evidence of hydrocarbons on the paper surface.
In addition to achieving sufficient water resistance features with MAA, a lesser hydrophobic character was obtained when using MOA. Compared to commercial applications, relatively large amounts of sizing agent were used to obtain a sufficient sizing degree. The MOA required 5% addition to achieve a similar sizing degree as MAA at the 2% level. The sizing treatments also resulted in substantial increases in tensile index value. Since cationic starch was used in the formulation of the sizing agents, the increase in tensile index may have been due to the influence of cationic starch. Contributions to paper strength from a combination of ionic complexation and mutual association of hydrophobic groups is also proposed.