keywords: Chemical composition, pulping, Sterculia tragacantha
Production of quality paper entails both long and short fibre pulp wood. There is shortage of industrial hardwood with long fibres for pulp and paper production in Nigeria. A preliminary investigation into the pulping potentials of Sterculia tragacantha was carried out to determine its suitability for papermaking. A single tree of Sterculia tragacantha was selected (due to its rarity) from which billets were collected behind the Central Mosque, along the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry in the University of Ibadan. These billets were converted to chips for easy chemical impregnation during pulping. The milled samples were collected for the determination of solubility, extractives and lignin contents using standard procedure. Pulping trials were then carried out by Kraft process at 100 and 110oC using chips from the top, middle and base of the tree. Pulp produced at 110oC was bleached using multistage hypochlorite sequence. Completely randomized design was used to investigate the influence of height along the tree axis on the chemical composition and pulp yield. The data obtained were subjected to ANOVA at α = 0.05. Position along the tree axis significantly affected the ethanol-benzene extractive and lignin contents of Sterculia tragacantha wood while solubility and alpha cellulose contents showed no significant effect at α = 0.05. The Sterculia tragacantha pulp was hard to bleach and required high chemical consumption to achieve remarkable brightness, though hypochlorite performed better than peroxide. The results of this research work showed that S. tragacantha may be suitable for pulp and papermaking. It is therefore recommended that further studies on paper making and strength properties be carried out that can encourage mass propagation of the species.