Three FPInnovations researchers recently published a peer-reviewed paper entitled “Energy saving potential of interstage screen fractionation for production of board grade BCTMP” in TAPPI Journal (August 2023, Vol. 22 No. 8).
With the findings from their research, bleached chemithermomechanical pulp (BCTMP) mills can implement different strategies to produce low-energy, low-carbon BCTMP, with better understanding of the impact of mainline interstage screening fractionation and rejects refining on refining energy reduction and development of pulp properties.
Over the last few decades, the continuing decline in mechanical pulp-based grades has led pulp producers to modify operations and implement measures to reduce production costs in order to stay competitive. In spite of a considerable effort to reduce energy consumption, the latter is still a major portion of production costs in the process of making bleached chemithermomechanical pulp (BCTMP). In this study, we evaluated the impact of interstage screening fractionation (ISSF) and secondary refining strategy for producing BCTMP with the objective of reducing refining energy consumption while maintaining or improving bulk and strength properties. In the first step and to establish a baseline for a mill’s existing configuration, the collected primary refined pulp and reject streams from the ISSF were refined in a high consistency (HC) refiner to target freeness levels. The accepts and refined rejects streams were recombined, and their properties were compared to those of the refined primary pulp. The results showed that, at a given freeness of 400 mL and compared to the control case (without fractionation), the ISSF using an 0.070 in. basket followed by rejects refining could lead to about 25% energy saving in the second stage HC refining. Handsheet properties showed that utilization of ISSF could produce BCTMP with higher bulk and similar average fiber length and tear index. However, a slight reduction in tensile strength was observed. In the second set of trials, the primary refined pulp and the rejects from the ISSF using the 0.070 in. basket were refined by a low-consistency (LC) refiner. The results showed that, at the same freeness of 400 mL and compared to refined primary pulp, the ISSF saved about 26% in net LC refining energy. At a specific edge load (SEL) of 0.4 J/m, the produced pulp had similar bulk and strength properties compared to those of the control sample. A higher SEL of 0.6 J/m in LC refining could further decrease net refining energy consumption; however, it also led to reduction in fiber length, bulk, and strength properties..
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