A Publication on World Pulp, Paper & Allied Industry




Nonwoody Plant Fibre Pulps
  By Dr. Manfred Judt

Paper, as defined in ISO 4046, is a generic term for a range of materials in the form of a coherent sheet or web, made by deposition of vegetable, mineral, animal or synthetic fibres or their mixtures from a fluid suspension onto a suitableforming device with or without the addition of other substances.

This paper technology was invented in 105 BC by T-sai Lun, an official at the Empirial Court of Ho-Ti n China.
There is a Chinese legend that T-sai Lun was desperate that a shipment of writing silk was delayed and being in charge of the procurement of such goods for the royal court he anticipated big troubles, and in his sorrow he walked through the royal gardens until he angrily pushed his foot into a heap of rotten fishing nets. When a cloud of hemp fibres went up he had the brilliant idea to collect such fibres and after dispersing them in water and pouring them on a bamboo mat he could form a sheet of paper and then sun-dried it (1, 2)

In todays language in a time of want he used a biopulped waste material in a new technology and created a new, cheaper product for an existing market, a writing paper..
The fibre basis for handpaper making in Asia was for many years to come: fibres from bamboo, mulberry bast, Gambi, Mitsumata, used nets and textiles, straws, while in the Western world only used textiles, and rags with fibres like wool, flax, hemp, cotton were used.
In Asia today it is still traditon to cook bast fibres from mulberry, Gambi and Mitsumata with wood ash, wash the pulp in running water, and produce handformed papers of highest quality, e.g. Xuan paper for Calligraphy in China. The first woodfibre containing papers were produced in 185o.After 186o hardwood pulps and later softwood pulps and then in increasing amounts recovered papers were used in mixtures to produce machine-made papers and boards.

Table 1 shows the development of the nonwood pulp production worldwide
between 1989 and 1999 ( 4 )

1989 1994 1996 1997 1998 1999
Production Nonwood pulps mio metric tons 8.6 10.14 18.1 17.6 17.2 17.1


Since 1850 wood pulp fibres, mechanical pulps and chemical pulps, have found their place very quickly in machine-made papers and in 1999 (3)the world production of paper and board was 315 mi tons, but 94.5 % of all the fibres were wood-based, only 5.5% were nonwood based.

Between 1989 and 1996 there was a steep increase in nonwood pulp production of about 1o mio tons.
But in the past four years the global production of nonwood pulps stagnated at 17.1 mio tons per annum(5).

About 16 mi tons are produced in the developing countries, mostly in Asia, the rest, about 1 mio tons in the developed countries ( 6 ).

But worldwide there is a reversal:Straw pulps are replaced by cheaper and more uniform processed recovered papers, like in China ( 2 mi tons/y, Spain( 120 000 tons/y and Italy A pulping capacity of 24 mi tons ( 4 ) exists at present, but it is not used fully.



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