A Publication on World Pulp, Paper & Allied Industry

October-December'2001

Analysis

   

Nonwoody Plant Fibre Pulps : By Dr. Manfred Judt 

Future and References

 
Future

Although there are century long histories on using nonwood plant Fibres in papermaking, especially in hand papermaking, the use of such fibres at present worldwide is only 5.5% of the total fibres in a world production of about 315 mio tons.

Table 4 Survey on Nonwood Puls

Fiber Length 4 mm and longer 1.5 - 4 mm Below 1.5 mm
       
Raw Materials Cotton Bamboo All Straws
  Abaca (Manila hemp) Bagasse  
  Flax Reeds  
  Hemp Esparto Kenaf   
       
Markets Special Papers e.g. Printing-, Low Priced
  Cigarette-, Writing-, Printing- ,
  Filter-, Packaging Papers Writing- and
  Banknote Papers   Packaging Papers
       
Tonnage about 1 Mio to. Ca. 4 Mio to. Ca. 12 Mio to.
Prices USD/ton 1.800 - 3000 Between Softwood and Hardwood Pulp Prices Between DIP- and Processed Recovered Papers
Future Increasing Quantities Characteristics Unique Insecure Supply Situation Declining Usage in China and Europa
Problems High Cleanliness too high for Bagasse Fuel Replacement Value High Increases in Transport, Storage  and Production Costs
  Uniformity of Quality Difficult Harvesting of Reeds Clean and Uniform Straw Supplies
  Wet Pulp Shipments Flowering of Bamboo High Loss of Physical Characteristics in dried Pulps
Pulping Processes Natron Alkaline Sulfite Mostly Natron Rarely Kraft Natron
 
A first Checklist for actions in such a studies could be:
 

Table 5  

Problem Areas Nonwood Wood
     
Fiber Raw Materials Great varieties Limited varieties
Harvesting Short periods All year round
Costs    
a) Transport Due to high volume Higher Denser material Lower
b) Storage Bigger storage areas High losses Normal
c) Cleanliness More complicated machinery for cleaning: Washing, Dedusting, Depithing Less investments
Pulp production Often lower chemical demand Lower output per digester Volume Higher chemical demand higher output per digester volume  
Pulp Bleaching max.- 85 Brightness Up to 94 Brightness
Pulp Washing 2-3 times larger filter areas Time consuming Washing easy  
Black Liquour Lower heat value Higher heat value than nonwood black liqueurs
Chemical Recovery Silicate deposition in evaporator units No Problems
Cleanliness of Pulps Very high cleanliness not possible Very high cleanliness possible
Pulp Dewatering Mostly slower pulps No problems
Beatability Straws: very quickly Cotton, flax: slowly No problems
Uniformity of Pulp Quality Variations due to seasons and climate Less variations
Environment loads Due to inefficient chemical recovery Controllable loads  systems higher

Woodbased pulps are preferred not because these fibres have better papermaking, characteristics, but they are more economical to procduce. Especially the harvesting and transportation costs for wood are lower than for nonwood plant materials. To decide whether a nonwood pulp and paper project is economically and environmentally sound and studies from the cradle to the grave should be carried out.

Here are some questions which have to be answered honestly.

Is the supply of fibre raw material secured?
What are the fibre prices and the transportation costs?
Will there be an uniform and clean pulp production possible?

There were some recent big studies to determine whether nonwood pulp production in countries like Canada (Paprican, wheat straw) and Finland (Jaako Pöry, canary reeds) are viable.(12, 13, 14, 15,16)

The studies revealed the great difficulties:

  • in finding sufficient uniform, clean raw materials for bigger mills (100 000 tons/year)

  • in storing huge amounts of such materials,

  • in cleaning ;washing, chopping of such materials before they are fed into the digesters

  • in designing highly efficient chemical recovery units

Often the pulping of nonwood fibre material is easy but the resulting pulps are often unsuitable due to their poor dewatering characteristics in high speed paper production Therefore they often have their niche markets in special paper production.  Today straw pulps must be cheaper than processed recovered papers in certain paper grades, e.g. corrugating medium Bagasse pulps must be price competive with hardwood pulps But will this be possible when the fuel replacement value for market bagasse is so high at present?

It is my opinion that worldwide the chances for new Nonwoody plant fibre pulp and paper mills are smaller than ever and the present production of about 17.1 mio tons will be a maximum for some time to come.

REFERENCES
  1. "Das Buch vom Papier", Armin Renke, Insel-Verlag

  2. "Papermaking" von Dard Hunter Alfred A. Knopf. Inc., 1943

  3. PPI, Annual Review, July, 2000.

  4. "FAO, Pulp and Paper Capacities, 1994-1999 and 1999-2004 and 1998-2003

  5. PPI, Annual Review, July, 1989 - 2000

  6. "Nonwood Applications in Papermaking" by Graham Moore, PIRA publication

  7. J.E. Atchison: Update on global Use of Non-wood Plant Fiber and some prospects for their greater use In The United States, North American Nonwood Fiber Symposium,TAPPI, Feb. 17-18 1998, page 15 - 42

  8. James S. Hahn, (USDA FS - Forest Product Laboratory) "Fibre Property Comparison", 1998, TAPPI, North American Nonwood Fibre Symposium, Febr. page 77 - 85 Esau, K., Anatomy of seed plants, Second edition, John Wiley, New York, N.Y. (1977) Han, J.s. and J.S. Rowell, Chemical composition of fibers, Lewis Publishers, Boca Raton, Fl. (1997 )

  9. McGovern,Tappi 1975, 58 (1), 82 - 86

  10. Ivessalo-Pfaffli, M.-S. Fiber atlas, Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Germany, ( 1995)

  11. Marianne Harders-Steinhäuser, Faseratlas, Güntter Staib Verlag, Biberach, (1974 )

  12. L. Paavilainen, "Modern Non-Wood Pulp Mill - Process Concepts and Economic Aspects", North American Nonwood Fiber Symposium, TAPPI, Feb. 17-18 1998, page 227

  13. Paul Watson and Andrew Garner, "The Opportunities for Producing Pulp from Agricultural Residues in Alberta", Paprican, Miscellaneous Report, May 1997

  14. "A Cradle to Gate - Life Cycle Assessment of Straw Incorporation Units Telephone Directora - grade paper"; Paul Watson and others, TAPPI Vol. 82, No. 2, page 115 ff

  15. Jaako Pöry, Report V-91-MZ-0488, Prefeasibility Study for Straw Based Pulp Mill, funded by Agriculture Development Fund Saskatchewan, June 1991

  16. M.F. Davy and K.M. Thompson, "Pulp and Paper Mill Capital Costs (1972 - 1993) -  Canada USA", Paprican Miscellaneous Report 286.

 

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