Wool fiber was modified by steam explosion in this study. SEM results show that some scales on the fiber surface were cleaved and tiny grooves generated during the explosion. FTIR results suggest no evident changes in the chemical composition of the fiber after the explosion treatment. However, the crystallinity of the fiber decreased slightly as the steam pressure increased based on the X-ray results. In the thermal analysis, DSC results show that the temperature corresponding to vaporization of absorbed water and cleavage of disulfide bonds respectively decreased as the steam pressure increased. The reduction in thermal decomposition energy of the treated fiber indicates that steam explosion might have destroyed some crystals and crosslinks of macromolecular chains in the fiber. The treatment also led to some alterations of the fiber properties, including reduction in strength, moisture regain and solubility in caustic solution.
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