Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

FP7

FIBRE+ Report Summary

Project ID: 315633
Funded under: FP7-SME
Country: Belgium

Final Report Summary - FIBRE+ (Innovative Paper Packaging Products for European SMEs Based on Functional Modification of Recovered Fibres)

Executive Summary:
The main objective and integrated output of Fibre+ project was the creation of an innovative process based on modification of recovered fibres to be used to produce new functional packaging products with high level of standardization in EU, reducing the need of the sector for virgin fibres and supporting the competitiveness of the SMEs in EU packaging sector. The specific activities within the project were intended to:
• study and develop potential treatments for recovered fibre modification capable of improving physical- mechanical properties of recycled papers
• select the best fibre modification treatments based on property and recyclability criteria and validate at pilot plant scale
• develop appropriate modification process systems of recovered fibres, explore new possibilities for both cost reduction and quality increase in packaging design and manufacturing with the input of all stakeholders
• implement, demonstrate and validate a pilot plant for fibre modification (energy and raw material efficiency).The plant was realized with the assistance of SME consortium members
• train the staff of all the participants and disseminate the results to interested packaging SMEs (organize training courses and technical seminars, publish in practical sector journals and brochures and use internet)
• identify new uses of enhanced modified fibre papers by comparing the state-of-the-art and the results of Fibre+ technology in corrugating packaging SMEs
• foster the implementation of the new innovative fibre modification technology in SME users
The project identified the industrial bottlenecks of paperboard SMEs and established a channel for them to express their interests and specifications for the new innovative modification process of recovered fibres with criteria of performance and optimisation. The consortium took actions to disseminate the fibre+ modifications for fibre raw materials and products (recovered fibres, grade papers, corrugated board, boxes) to the packaging companies throughout Europe.

Project Context and Objectives:
This section provides a description of the work performed during the life-time of the project and the main results achieved towards the objectives:
The industrial bottlenecks (supply problems, limitations in processing of recovered fibres, product’s quality failures, manufacturing and productions needs etc.) of the European paperboard packaging SMEs were identified by using a questionnaire, CEPI’s and FEFCO’s reports and their members’ reviews. The information was used for specifying the Fibre+ technology. The published knowledge and industrial practical know-how relevant to recovered fibres available for the European paper industry was analysed through an extended literature review as well as through surveys and visits to SMEs. The existing documented and published knowledge relevant to recovered fibres available for the European paper industry was gathered, analysed and referred basically to sources, types, quality and characteristics, quantities, availability, handling by companies, uses in different products, effects on product’s performance, etc. Furthermore the different types of fibres used for the different products have been summarised and a specific review has been carried out considering the current state of the art of fibre modifications considering type of modifications, methodology for the modification, chemical, mechanical and enzymatic treatments, improved properties and improved products, applicability, etc. Also, the industrial practical know-how and experience regarding the recovered fibres by the European paper sector was gathered through direct visits to SME installations and by the experiences and support of the SME groupings of the consortium (CEPI, FEFCO). Significant conclusions were drawn on the potential to process recovered fibres and useful suggestions were made for the project.
A major milestone in the project was to take a go/no-go decision referring to the selection of modification agents and methods of delivery, and standards to evaluate the effectiveness. Appropriate modifying agents fulfilling the SME requirements and specifications of Fibre+ technology were selected, methods of delivery (submersion in water, spraying) to the recovered pulps were evaluated, and standards to compare the effectiveness of the modifications on the fibre and paper properties were defined. Specifically, a list of modification agents and respective methods of delivery as well as a list of standard methods to evaluate the effectiveness of fibre modification methods were presented. The selection of optimum agents (go/no-go decision) on agents and modifications was based on properties of handsheets manufactured by using modified fibres with the condition that recyclability was not hampered.
The best performing modifications were further studied and enriched to achieve their industrial adjustment needed for the pilot plant stage in the next steps of the project. Recovered pulp was provided by an SME paperboard company of the consortium and was characterised by its stock properties (ash, fines, etc.) and fibre characteristics (qualitative-quantitative analysis, and MORFI). Twenty one (21) adjustment trials of modification parameters for the representative recovered pulp, referred to the modification agent, method of application etc., were used for a first screening. The results of first screening were used to optimise the industrial adjustments in a twofold modification approach, wood and paper based. After testing of both approaches, the paper based modification was selected and further screened for industrial related parameters and tests. The data on the final chemistry specifications were used to assist the pilot plant design phase and also to prepare two research articles on the fibre modification at peer reviewed journals of the sector.
Detailed characterization and critical assessment of the state of the processes in a paperboard SME of the consortium (ASRPV) was performed, including on-site mapping of material flows in stock-preparation and in the approach flows, raw material utilisation, energy mapping and potential effects of the introduction of a Fibre+ concept. Budget and detail design for generic Fibre+ system involved a detailed description of a generic Fibre+ handling system based on the results from previous lab-scale testing of modification agents. The selected chemicals were aimed to be added to pulp suspension in an approach system of the paper machine at the dosage position(s) that ensures the best conditions for the reaction between chemicals and fibres and thus the resin efficiency. The important issue in connection to addition of dry or wet strength agents is to have a good knowledge about the composition of the raw material. The performance of any additives is dependent upon how well it is retained on the fibre. The efficiency of wet-strength and dry-strength resins is influenced by charge level in the stock, pH, content of mineral salts and anionic contaminants, temperature, fines and filler content and other additives. The resin adsorption process is more rapid and complete at higher consistency (thick stock) because the polymer molecules have shorter travel distance before colliding with a fibre surface. To gain even resins spreading it is important to ensure that very good mixing occurs at the point of addition on the paper machine. Only a very rough estimation of the budget for a generic Fibre+ handling system could be made.
A design of the Fibre+ concept at the selected SME (ASRPV) and a suggestion for demonstration trials to be performed at INNVENTIA on the pilot paper machine FEX were presented. The Fibre+ concept implies strengthening of testliner using wet and dry strength agents. The proposed chemicals are aimed to be added to pulp suspension in an approach system of a paper machine. At present the mill do not use any paper chemicals but the introduction of starch is planned in the near future. For the mill, Fibre+ concept implies introduction of new chemicals and installation of the chemical handling system. Before introduction of this kind of chemicals the environmental impact assessment has to be done. The goal for the trials on FEX was to demonstrate that by using the suggested chemicals the properties of testliner can be improved. The trials should be performed using a Fourdrinier forming section at the lowest possibly machine speed and paper with a grammage of 100 g/m2 was produced. Paper rolls from the mill should be used as a raw material. The chemicals should be handled according to safety data sheets. There are several environmental considerations in connection to Fibre+ demonstration trials at FEX (e.g. residual chemicals, process waters).
Laboratory and pilot trials were performed at INNVENTIA with raw material (paper rolls) coming from ASRPV mill. The raw material was analysed with respect to fibre charge, fibre dimensions and strength properties. The reference and Fibre+ concept pilot trials were performed using a Fourdrinier forming section at the machine speed of 200 m/min and paper with a grammage of approx. 100 g/m2 was produced. Before Fibre+ concept trial, several agents at varied dosage levels were tested in laboratory scale. Based on the results two chemicals were selected for Fibre+ concept trials namely cationic polyvinyl alcohol (cPVA, Xelorex RS1100) of medium charge level and CPAM (Novamax DSR-300) supplied by NTL. For comparison one of the starch points produced during reference trial was also repeated. Two dosage positions were applied during Fibre+ concept trials i.e. to long circulation (as in reference trial) and before headbox after headbox pump. At a dosage point near the headbox, two methods for mixing the chemicals with pulp were tested i.e. standard way through a valve and through a recently developed mixing device Ecowirl. In standard case the chemicals were diluted 10 times before the valve. With Ecowirl the additives with a high solid content were added directly to pulp at the same time as water was added trough Ecowirl. Chemical performance was followed during the trails by measurements of fibre Z-potential. It was concluded that starch showed the best improvements on paper strength properties and that the other chemicals only had smaller effects. The positive effects that have been seen in the laboratory were not fully repeatable in the pilot trials. However, it is not unusual that the pilot plant cannot capture the sensitivity of lab-scale experimentation nor simulate the industrial conditions. The consortium was confident on the validity of modification, and thus has decided to proceed to the industrial validation of Fibre+. At present Räpina mill do not use any paper chemicals but the introduction of starch is planned in the near future. For Räpina mill Fibre+ concept implies introduction of new chemicals and installation of the chemical handling system.
The main objective of was to assess the enhancement of properties achieved through fibre modification on material coming from the pilot tests and redefine the treatments in case it is necessary. It involved the effect of the modification methods on the morphology and chemistry of fibres, on the properties of modified papers, and on the recyclability of papers manufactured with modified fibres. All the papers manufactured in the FEX pilot plant during the trials were analysed using a fibre and pulp morphological analyser. The number of fibres, fibres aggregates and the fine elements of the different paper samples and all the morphological parameters (fibre length, fibre width, microfibrills, broken ends, etc.) were recorded and analysed. Testing of modified papers from the trials referred to selected industrial relevant physical and mechanical properties. The recyclability of selected paper samples manufactured in the FEX pilot plant trials (control and modified cPAM) was also evaluated. For each recyclability cycle, new pulping and sheet paper manufacturing were carried out. In every recycling stage, mechanical properties (bursting index and short-span compressive strength test index) and all morphological parameters were measured.
A complete database DB MODIFIED FIBRES AND PRODUCTS in MS Excel on the characteristics and properties of the modified pulps and paper products from laboratory and FEX pilot plant trials measured by the partners UCM, TEILAR and UGOE was created. The structure of this database allows an easy comparison between unmodified and modified pulps and products. The comparisons can be used to evaluate the enhancement achieved through the modification treatments studied for a specific packaging application. For predicting the properties of corrugated board that can be produced using modified paper grades having the properties worked out in the Fibre+ project, it was used the ModelPack software tool, which is the integrated output of the FP6 Collective Research project ModelPack (COLL-CT-2006-030299) “Advanced quality prediction tool for knowledge-driven packaging design and manufacturing in European SMEs”. This software is an advanced quality prediction tool developed to facilitate knowledge-driven packaging design and manufacturing. INNVENTIA as a direct beneficiary and owner of the software cooperated with COBRO in predicting the performance of corrugated board from modified grade paper components. A series of modelling processes have been performed to obtain the prediction of corrugated board properties influenced by several additives to the basic process of paper production.
A reference trial was performed in ASRPV paper mill with goal to produce reference paper to be compared with a paper manufactured with the Fibre+ concept. At present ASRPV mill do not use any strength or retention chemicals in their production to keep the low cost. The liner grade with a grammage of approx. 200 g/m2 was selected for a reference demonstration trial. Samples at different positions before and on the paper machine were collected for determination of pulp consistency, pH and conductivity. Paper samples were also collected for evaluation of liner properties. Results in the global assessment of the Fiber+ concept (use of modified CPAM: mCPAM) showed that the application of the chemical is suitable for SMEs in ta sense that it is easy to handle and use without the need of mixing equipment. The recommendation would be to use the Fibre+ concept for machine flows with small shear forces in the pulp flow and the chemicals should be mixed in with pulp in a position providing intermediate contact times (about 30s). Recommendations and revised design criteria for system lay-out for a full scale SME installation were suited very well the paper mill ASRPV. The mill can run its process as normal and merely adjust the dosage of the chemicals to achieve the recommended dwell time for the chemicals.
Demonstration of Fibre+ technology in the SMEs was possible by a Fiber+ technology trial that was performed in ASRPV paper mill. The goal for this trial was to produce paper with the Fibre+ concept to be compared with a reference paper manufactured without Fibre+ concept. The Fibre+ testliner grade had a grammage of approx. 200 g/m2 and was manufactured at ASRPV mill at two levels of dosage, 2 and 4 kg/ton active agent (mCPAM). The results showed that strength properties were increased on average with 30% and 40 % for the dosage levels of 2 and 4 kg/ton active agent, using basic machinery and process conditions with small shear forces. A final concept of Fibre+ technology was provided by summarising all the important technical steps of the project from lab, to pilot and finally industrial scale, including: identification of fibre modifications (chemical modification agents , pilot test of possible Fiber+ modifications, assessment of the Fibre+ concept, fibre+ concept trial in ASRPV mill, Fibre+ concept Assessment)
By the integrated outputs of the pilot plant and industrial scale demonstrations, it was evaluated the potential of the Fibre+ modification technology in opening new alternatives and decision possibilities in the manufacturing process of corrugated base papers and suitability for different packaging applications focussed on contributing to maintain the competitiveness of SMEs. The experimental work has been focussed on improving the quality of cellulose fibres in order to improve the quality of the final products and/or to open new niche markets for the improved products. Specifically, it was compared the achievements of the industrial implementation of the project results at industrial scale in a paper mill (AS RPV-SME project partner) against the expectations of Fibre+ technology as they were specified at the beginning of the project by analysing the industrial bottlenecks (supply problems, limitations in processing of recovered fibres, product’s quality failures, manufacturing and productions needs etc.) of the European paperboard packaging SMEs. Furthermore, the perspectives for the final implementation of the proposed technology at AS RPV production and the required decision making aspects were also considered.
The cost effectiveness of Fibre+ technology was based on specific case studies at the two participating companies; a papermaking SME (AS RPV), at which the industrial implementation of Fibre+ modification with modified cPAM was tested, and a packaging producer (DS Smith Paper IT), which projected the technical improvements in corrugated packaging by theoretically using Fibre+ modified base papers. In the case of the AS RPV cost saving model, the costs of using the new technology were compared with the standard ones in the company by using no chemical additives for paper strength improvement. An estimation of the economic impact of the Fibre+ technology and its usefulness as a material/ resource saving instruments based on the Business Impact Assessment tool offered by CEPI was also performed.
Several activities were carried out to disseminate and present the Fibre+ project and its results. A large part of these activities have been carried on a “daily business basis”, by having had Fibre+ updated information on the agendas of many internal and external meetings of CEPI and FEFCO. Dissemination activities were carried out also through presentations made at two congresses in Bologna (Italy) through COST action FP1003 (October 2013) and Sestri Levante (Italy) for the ATICELCA (Italian Technical Association of paper producers and suppliers of the paper industry) International Congress (May 2015). Two referred articles in scientific journals of the sector were also produced. The project results were disseminated to the European Pulp, Paper and Packaging community during the final conference of the project within the European Paper Week organised by CEPI (November 2015).
Practical training materials and activities were organised for the staff of SME-AGs (FEFCO, CEPI) and the SMEs (AS RPV, NTL) of the project (internal training) as well as of the European SMEs of the corrugated packaging supply chain (external training) on the integrated results of the project and on the integration of Fibre+ technology in the paper manufacturing process.
In parallel, periodic and final impact assessments of the Fibre+ project results on SMEs competitiveness were performed. It can be concluded that the results of the Fibre+ project are such as to: do not perturb the production processes (not papermaking nor converting), can coexist with the actual bottlenecks of SMEs and even help in clearing some of them, require no or very small and affordable investments in the very large majority of the supply chain SMEs in Europe (not at the paper mills nor at the converting plans), lead to significant increases of the mechanical characteristics with no need to increase the grammage of the papers, have costs of the chemicals and their dosage that are in line with those of other chemicals that are commonly used in the papermaking as process aids, do not raise environmental or safety concerns, and are further improvable. Thus, Fibre+ project has achieved its goals for positively impacting on the corrugated materials supply chain SMEs in Europe and for enabling them to increase their competitiveness, being the Fibre+ concept advantageous, fully accessible and further improvable.

Project Results:
NOTABENE: A .pdf VERSION OF THIS SECTION WITH READABLE TABLES, GRAPHS AND PICTURES IS ATTACHED TO THIS REPORT AS ANNEX 1.
The description of the main S&T results of the Fibre+ project is presented following the structure of R&D work of the research program:

Industrial practices in utilizing recovered fibres and effectiveness of Fibre+ technology
Identification of industrial bottlenecks in the SMEs and specification of the Fibre+ technology
The industrial bottlenecks (supply problems, limitations in processing of recovered fibres, product’s quality failures, manufacturing and productions needs etc.) of the European paperboard packaging SMEs were identified by using a questionnaire and CEPI’s and FEFCO’s reports and their members’ reviews. The information was used for specifying the Fibre+ technology which was a major objective. To be able to identify the industrial bottlenecks of participating and European SMEs, the consortium should have had a clear picture of the different actors in the packaging supply/production chain (raw materials, semi-elaborates, final products). This would allow understanding how paperboard packaging is used up to the end-user and which criteria and expectations end-users and consumers put towards packaging. Thus, the typical supply chain model for the paperboard packaging industry was considered as well as affecting factors related to paper mills (e.g. recycled-based papers) and corrugated packaging manufacturers (e.g. corrugating sheet manufacturing, converting process) were taken into consideration being essential in the design of Fibre+ solutions.
Two (2) questionnaires to identify the industrial bottlenecks in the paper mills and corrugated board manufacturers were formulated with the support of CEPI and FEFCO. The questionnaires were submitted to the members of CEPI and FEFCO representing also the interests of SMEs paper producing companies in Europe. Specifically, it was prepared a complete list of addresses of 400 companies to which the questionnaire was submitted.
Due to the very low response to both questionnaires by companies, the contingency plan was employed: (a) Qualitative and quantitative data of the European paper and packaging companies (b) Specification of Fibre+ technology by the SME-AGs and SMEs of the consortium. To find reliable quantitative and qualitative data of European paper packaging companies that could give a description of the sectors, CEPI’s and FEFCO’s databases were used. The information was mainly provided by these two European Associations of pulp, paper and corrugated packaging industries and included: quantitative data of the European pulp, paper and corrugated board industry according to CEPI and FEFCO statistics, and qualitative data such as competitiveness, resource efficiency, the role of European pulp and paper industry towards the Declaration on Paper Recycling 2011-2015, effects of the EU industrial policy, and the position of the industry towards bio-energy aspects. These data were taken into account in formulating the industrial bottlenecks of European paper and packaging companies. The industrial bottlenecks were described separately for the paper mills and corrugated board companies by also using summaries of CEPI’s and FEFCO’s member’s country reports.
The Associations (CEPI, FEFCO) and the two paper packaging companies of the consortium (ASRPV, DSSPaperIT) expressed their expectations from the Fibre+ project, and gave a specification of Fibre+ technology in good detail. Thus, a good combination from industrial point of view should be gained on the general conditions Fibre+ technology should comply with. This information is rather important at the development stages of the technology and its integration to the paper production processes. By summarising the needs and expectations of Associations and companies of the consortium, a final specification of Fibre+ technology was developed to set and monitor the direction of the project. According to the final specification, Fibre+ technology should:
- Improve the chemical-physical-strength properties of recycled fibres
- Keep or improve paper recyclability (repulpability, increasing of number of recycling cycles)
- Follow a priority in treatments: stock preparation, size press, combination
- Provide possibilities to apply treatments off line (batch treatment) and/or on line (during paper production process)
- Provide cost effective treatments
- Provide paper products which comply with the food contact legislation
Fibre+ technology should not:
- Decrease paper strength properties despite the shortening and hornification of recycled fibres
- Decrease paper machine efficiency/productivity
- Change process conditions (pH, conductivity, cationic demand, COD)
- Increase energy consumption
- Add to costs by using expensive chemicals for the treatments
- Negatively impact sustainability of the papermaking process, effluents, and safety

Review of state of the art and inquiry on industrial practices
It was gathered the published knowledge and industrial practical know-how relevant to recovered fibres available for the European paper industry. An extended literature review was coordinated by searching scientific databases as Scopus and ScienceDirect and specific papermaking databases as Tappi, STFI and Pira as well as through surveys and visits to SMEs. The existing documented and published knowledge relevant to recovered fibres available for the European paper industry was gathered, analysed and referred basically to sources, types, quality and characteristics, quantities, availability, handling by companies, uses in different products, effects on product’s performance, etc. Furthermore, the different types of fibres used for the different products were summarised and a specific review has been carried out considering the current state of the art of fibre modifications considering type of modifications, methodology for the modification, chemical, mechanical and enzymatic treatments, improved properties and improved products, applicability, etc. Finally, the industrial practical know-how and experience regarding the recovered fibres by the European paper sector was gathered through direct visits to SME installations. Specifically, ten (10) direct visits to SME packaging grade paper manufacturers took place in Greece, Spain, Italy, and Germany. Furthermore, the SME groupings of the consortium (CEPI and FEFCO) contributed with their experience and expertise within the European paper and packaging sectors. Details were made available on a specific check list used for the visits to paper mills.

Development of different Fibre+ technology systems
Following the industrial bottlenecks, Fibre+ technology has been successfully designed after considering all the affecting factors related to the manufacture of recycled-based papers by European paper SMEs, e.g. sources and availability of raw materials, quality of raw materials, handling and processing of raw materials, grammage, strength performance, environmental considerations, recyclability of the modified fibres and new papers and finally the cost of the modification. The followed approach in the project was: First, the above mentioned parameters were considered in detail during the development phase of Fibre+ technology. Second a well-structured set up of laboratory trials was performed considering different approaches: the direct modification of fibres, the modification of chemicals and as alternatives, in case the new chemicals were not successful, a wide screening of chemicals used for other purposes and the combination of chemicals with nanocellulose. Then pilot plant validation trials were carried out with a number of modifying chemicals of recovered fibres. Results were analysed considering all the limitations and requirements of European paper companies before any of them be selected for entering the industrial implementation at AS RPV. For example, some of the modifications were excluded from further testing even when they were very promising for paper strength improvement at the laboratory stage due to future environmental concerns. That implied that Fibre+ modification chemicals and processes should fulfil every single current and future foreseen requirement. Finally the modified dry strength agent cPAM was selected for industrial trials since it satisfied all the requirements considered from the process, the environment and the economic aspects.
The results of the industrial implementation of the Fibre+ technology developed within the project were compared with the expectations of the SME mill AS RPV as they were specified at the initial stages of the project:

Expectations of AS RPV from Fibre+ technology Satisfaction Details
General requirements
Protect the fibres (keep the same morphological fibre properties e.g. length ) along the process starting with pulping until the paper produced on the machine X Fibre morphology was not affected negatively as was proved at the pilot validation phase (morphological parameters only decrease after three recyclability cycles)
Ease separation of fibres during desintagration in the pulping stage and during screening X The chemical has no significant negative effect on recyclability
Specific requirements
Chemicals are added to the pulpers or otherwise as early as possible X Modified cPAM was added to the furnish stock in an early step as required
Paper properties are not affected negatively
X On the contrary! Significant improvements was seen in paper strength properties when modified c-PAM was added to the furnish:
• Tensile index by 46%
• Stretch at break by 40%
• TEA by 105%
• SCT index by 35%
• Burst index by 60%
• Air permeance and surface roughness decreased by 13%
• Z-tensile strength by 49%
• Density increased only by 7%
De-watering capacity in the paper machine is not decreased X No adverse effects were detected in the industrial trials as predicted in the lab and pilot experiments.

Due to the simplicity of the implementation of the Fibre+ technology developed within the project, AS RPV, after some on-site training on chemical application and use, has all the required knowledge and expertise to further optimise and use wisely the Fibre+ technology in the production plant. This technology can easily be transferred to other SMEs.
The following Table shows the information on the Fibre+ Technology as regards to its compliance with the original specifications, which were set to follow the needs and expectations of Associations (FEFCO, CEPI) and their member companies.

Original specifications of Fibre+ Technology Satisfaction
Improves the chemical-physical-strength properties of recycled fibres +++ t improves the strength properties of recycled fibres and final products
Keeps or improves paper recyclability (repulpability, increasing of number of recycling cycles) +++ Keeps the repulpability potential and number of recycled rates. There is not a negative effect on recyclability
Follows a priority in treatments: stock preparation, size press, combination +++ Can be applied to the furnish in the stock preparation step
Provides possibilities to apply treatments off line (batch treatment) and/or on line (during paper production process) +++ The chemical can be easily be applied on line (during paper production process)
Provides cost effective treatments +++ Does not represent an additional cost; modified c-PAM has comparable costs to conventional cPAM
Provides paper products which comply with the food contact legislation ++ No harmful chemistry
Does not decrease paper strength properties despite the shortening and hornification of recycled fibres +++ Paper strength properties are significantly increased while no changes in fibre morphology and degradation of cell wall chemistry occur
Does not decrease paper machine efficiency/productivity +++ Paper machine efficiency/productivity are retained or improved
Does not change process conditions (pH, conductivity, cationic demand, COD) +++ No changes in process conditions
Does not increase energy consumption +++ Energy consumption remains unchanged
Does not add to costs by using expensive chemicals for the treatments +++ Uses an inexpensive chemical
Does not negatively impact sustainability of the papermaking process, effluents, and safety +++ Sustainability of the process is not affected

In conclusion by meeting the basic and detailed specifications set above, the developed Fibre+ technology provides the possibility of improving the quality of paper without any negative effect of the process considering technical, environmental and economic issues. Thus, it opens numerous possibilities for SMEs that could easily improve their paper and final product quality beside the lower quality of the raw materials. The implementation of this technology could help SMEs to maintain their competitiveness due to the maintain or increase of the quality of their products and the possibilities to access new niche markets if specific packaging requirements are achieved given that specific technical benefits and integration possibilities in the manufacturing process will be handled accordingly.

Cost effectiveness of Fibre+ technology
It was evaluated the cost efficiency of the Fibre+ technology for the participating companies in the project (a paper making SME and a corrugating packaging producer) as well as for the European paper packaging sector in general. The intention of the project was to help packaging companies to explore how an advanced technology can be industrially applied to improve the quality of the products (base papers, corrugated board, packages) through a fundamental improvement of their stock recycled fibrous materials. The Fibre+ technology based on treating fibres with modified cPAM can be used by packaging SMEs to: achieve the target corrugated base paper properties by improving the quality of inferior fibres, utilize the available resources in an optimal manner, and predict the most efficient combination of packaging papers grades in order to achieve a desired set of corrugated board or box properties, thus choosing the right paper for the right use not adding to the production costs. This was already proved during the industrial implementation phase of the technology, also during training sessions of the participating companies and various events in which the technology was presented to companies of the sector at regional (Aticelca Conference-Italy) and European levels (European Paper Week-Belgium). In detail, the improvements in strength properties by modified CPAM addition to the fibre furnish during the industrial trial were: Tensile index by 46%, Stretch at break by 40%, Tensile energy absorption by 105%, SCT index by 35%, Burst index by 60%, and Z-tensile strength by 49%. At the same time, air permeance and surface roughness decreased by 13%, and density increased only by 7%. These represent a significant improvement in the quality of the production, especially for a small paper producer (As RPV), which has never used previously dry-strength additives and needs to face a constantly increasing competition environment and market challenges. Obviously, Fibre+ Technology provides the company and other similar companies with a competitive tool that opens new decision making possibilities.
It should be noted that the market success of corrugated packaging is governed by many factors. These factors are not directly and necessarily linked with prices and can be many others like: service, technical performance, reliability, safety of delivery, trust, stable quality with time, etc. Of course, price is a very important factor for the market success of any packaging solution but not the only one and thus any development – innovation (like Fibre+ Technology) aiming at improving the quality of recycled fibres and packaging thereof should also address the above mentioned factors. Fibre+ Technology can help SMEs and other companies of the sector in upgrading their products and selecting more wisely the appropriate base paper for a specific packaging use. It is thus a cost reducing tool and not a price reducing tool. The technology mainly focuses in increasing the strength performance of corrugated base papers by using the same quantity of fibrous stock materials (no need to increase the grammage), thus offering more precision in the decision making of companies: choosing the right paper for the right use. Fibre+ technology should be considered as a cost reducing instrument through material/ resource saving.
The cost efficiency of the Fibre+ technology at the AS RPV paper mill employing modified cPAM at two dosages (2 and 4 kg/ton pulp) in the stock preparation can be compared with the standard costs occurring at the company with no use of dry-strength additives. However, this should be seen under the prism of the significant increase in the strength qualities of the products by using Fibre+, which ranged from 35 to 105% for various properties. It was possible for this small company to significantly improve the quality of the production, thus meeting customers’ requirements and competiveness criteria, with a very small investment. The expected slight increase in the product’s price can be always opposed and argued with the improvement in properties. This fact, of course, opens new decision possibilities for the company and allows for structured discussions with the consumers. The table provides the details of total cost per ton of paper production (200 g/m2):

Cost item Fibre+ scenarios using different modified cPAM dosages
0 kg/t pulp 2 kg/t pulp 4 kg/t pulp
Fibrous stock, EUR/ton 100 100 100
Chemical*, EUR/ton 0 14.48 28.96
Energy** (kWh/ton;EUR/ton) 128.9; 46.84 128.9; 46.84 128.9; 46.84
Total cost EUR/ton 146.84 161.32 175.80
Modifications of the production line (pumps pipes ect. (one-time cost, EUR) 0 785 785
Improvement of strength properties (%)***
SCT 0% 27.0% 33.1%
Burst index 0% 52.5% 63.9
* includes the shipping costs to Estonia. Without shipping, costs would be around half
** refers to forming, pressing and drying section as only these parts are affected by using the chemical
*** SCT and burst index are considered as the most industrial relevant ones

The possibility on how the Fibre+ Technology can be used to optimise packaging costs has been analysed by the packaging company DS Smith Paper IT, and an example/ scenario as a cost reduction tool is as follows:
A typical packaging delivery for the company DS Smith Paper IT is food with dimensions 300 × 300 × 250 mm to pack food and beverage. According to the practical experience of this company and its industrial practices a typical composition of board to deliver this packaging would be: TL 200 / SM 150 / TL 200. The total board grammage is 550 g/m2 and taking into account the amount of glue to be used it will be approximately 560 g/m2. The average market packaging cost is about 0.40 euros/m2 so, consequently, is clear the box cost.
The technical managers of DS Smith Paper IT tested the possibility of using testliner (TL) base papers coming from the application of Fibre+ technology with 2 kg or 4 Kg cPAM instead of the conventional ones and specified various base paper combinations to achieve a target BCT value of approximately 187 Kg. This BCT value was proved in practice to be sufficient for the specific packaging delivery. The possible scenarios to meets the BCT minimum value can be:
Scenario 1: TL 200 (usual) / SM 150 / TL 200 (usual)
Scenario 2: TL 200 (Fibre+, 2 kg cPAM) / SM 150 / TL 200 (Fibre+, 2 kg cPAM)
Scenario 3: TL 200 (Fibre+, 4 kg cPAM) / SM 150 / TL 200 (Fibre+, 4 kg cPAM)
Every scenario was tested with known formulas and proved to give a BCT value of:
Scenario 1 without Fibre+ Technology: 187 Kg
Scenario 2 with Fibre+ Technology: 238 Kg
Scenario 3 with Fibre+ Technology: 258 Kg
That means that the specific delivery, considering the costs, can be better met with scenario 2 of Fibre+ Technology by providing an increase in BCT of 27%. The increase of BCT between scenario 2 and 3 is not so big (only 11%) considering that in scenario 3 we used double amount of cPAM, and therefore this is not the optimum solution (costs vs. performance and customer satisfaction).
The application of the Fibre+ technology is expected to increase the competitiveness of corrugated board packaging:
- Within the sector against corrugated competitors not using the technology
- Against returnable plastic crates because of reduced costs and thus a comparative advantage
- The technology offers a special benefit for SMEs in order to increase their competitiveness and balance their differences from big multinational companies who have the resources and tools to manage better the complex problem of improving their fibrous stocks and efficient utilisation of their packaging materials.
- Outside the sector against other materials (e.g. plastic, solid board, wood)
Experiences gathered during the life time of the project as well comments received during the regional and European dissemination activities (Aticelca Conference-Italy and European Paper Week-Belgium) from a large group of European corrugated packaging companies on which might the future use of the technology by the sector, have led to the following conclusions:
- The technology could be further adapted to specific companies’ needs
- The potential of using cost-effective chemical agents for significantly improving stock quality beyond the levels achieved by the conventional ones could be further explored, especially in the case of SMEs not having access to advanced technologies
- Fibre modification approaches should be of interest for different chemical RTD actors and providers
- Provides possibilities in upgrading and predicting packaging strength
- A future continuous flow of news/ updates will be useful
- Downgrading of grammage of corrugated board (e.g. using base paper with lower grammage but with equal of higher strength) through Fibre+ will be more and more of importance
- Appropriate base paper composition of packaging will be on focus
- Other fibre and base paper qualities (e.g. moisture sensitivity) would be an i feature of Fibre+ technology for the future

Lab-scale evaluation and selection of modification agents and adjustment of fibre modification
The main objectives were to: (a) select appropriate methods for chemical modification of recovered fibres based on the specification of Fibre+ technology from the previous WP 1 (b) to adjust the fibre modification processes to the raw materials used in the manufacturing process of the participating SMEs (c) provide all modification parameters necessary for the pilot plant tests. Significant results were obtained in allowing basically the continuation of the project, this means the definition of the first pilot tests. These can be summarised as follows:
- Go/no-go decision: most of selected modifications were capable to improve paper properties while they do no hamper recycling. Thus, the consortium can continue working for further industrial adjustment of the agents and application parameters. The two (2) best performing agents were dimethylol-dihydroxyethylene-urea (DMDHEU) applied by immersion and low cationic polyacrylamide applied at the stock
- Industrial adjustment of modification treatments and proposals for the next steps in WPs 3-4: (a) The selection of modifications for the pilot plant tests should be based on the industrial most relevant properties, that means short span compression (SCT) and bursting strength, and secondly on the recyclability; (b) DMDHEU is no longer an option as the above mentioned properties SCT and burst were diminished; (c) Potential for testing at the pilot plant stage showed the modifications firstly 1% cPAM and secondly 2% cMF; (d) The property values provided by 1% cPAM should be the baseline as well as the low concentration of chemicals (1%). Higher concentrations should be excluded for economic reasons; (e) Further fine tuning (e.g. comparison with commercial available products, chemistry improvements, and combination with other products) will be needed in WPs 3-4 for the selected modifications 1% cPAM and 2% cMF before any of them could enter the pilot plant phase. That will maximise the possibilities to obtain even better results in the pilot plant; (f) The results are enough and of appropriate value for 2 scientific publications in peer reviewed journals. The involved RTD partners are still working on the first drafts.

Evaluation and selection of modifying agents and methods of delivery
It was studied: (a) the selection of appropriate modifying agents fulfilling the SME requirements and specifications of Fibre+ technology (b) the methods of delivery (submersion in water, spraying) to the recovered pulps (c) the definition of standards to compare the effectiveness of the modifications on the fibre and paper properties. Specifically, a list of modification agents and respective methods of delivery as well as a list of standard methods to evaluate the effectiveness of fibre modification methods were presented. The selection of optimum agents (go/no-go decision) on agents and modifications was based on properties of handsheets manufactured by using modified fibres.
The activities started by searching the different categories of chemicals to be considered for selecting appropriate fibre modifications agents, starting from the relevant list that was indicated in the very initial phase of submission of the project: (a) Silicates, silanes, and silicone compounds (b) N-Methylol compounds (1,3-dimethylol-4,5-dihydroxyethylene-urea, i.e. DMDHEU, N methylol-melamine) (c) Dialdehydes (glyoxal, glutaraldehyde), which are able to undergo cross-linking of cell wall polymers (d) Polymeric anionic or cationic compounds (such as cationic or anionic starch, carboxymethyl cellulose, polydiallyldimethyl-ammoniumchloride, poly-styrene sulphonate, polyvinylamine, polyethylenimine). By using the expertise of involved partners in wood modification agents, in paper manufacturing and in chemistry, the following agents were found to be interesting for the first phase of the project: 1,3-Dimethylol-4,5-dihydroxyethylene-urea (DMDHEU), N-Methylol melamine (NMM), phenol-formaldehyde (PF), glyoxal, silicones, polyacrylamide, and water glass. Based on the detailed description of these chemicals, it was established a list of potential modification agents and methods of delivery (fibres, paper machine). This list served to pre-select the first group of additives to study but it was also a reservoir for selecting chemicals for further experimentation if necessary.

Handsheet modification by immersion

A pre-selection of agents was necessary to start the experimentation and further screening the most suitable agents considering the properties and recyclability of papers and the following factors: function, price, implementability and toxicity. The pre-selection of agents and treatments was decided as follows: Modification agent: Dimethylol-dihydroxyethylene-urea (DMDHEU), Methylated melamine formaldehyde (MMF), Low cationic polyacrylamide, Anionic starch (control), Concentrations: 0.5 / 1.0 percentage chemical based on dry fibre (stock preparation) or the solid content of the solution the paper is treated with (immersion), Application method: The chemical was either added to the fibre suspension immediately before sheet forming (stock) or handsheets were immerged in an aqueous solution of the chemical (immersion).
The methods to evaluate the effectiveness of fibre modification by different agents were decided amongst the involved RTD performers in this Task. The aim was to give a rapid evaluation of the effects of modifications and treatments on both fibre and paper basic industrial relevant properties. Pulps and fibres: zero-span (dry-wet), fibre morphology, pulp composition. Handsheets: Grammage, thickness, bulk, Cobb, tensile strength (dry-wet).
Thus, by testing modified pulps and laboratory handsheets obtained from them, it was possible the selection of optimum agents (go/no-go decision) and modifications based on recyclability criteria.

Industrial adjustment of selected fibre modifications to the recovered fibrous materials from SMEs
The modification treatments previously identified previously were further studied and enriched to achieve their industrial adjustment needed for the pilot plant stage in WP3. Recovered pulp was provided by a company in Germany and characterised for its stock properties and fibre characteristics. Twenty one (21) adjustment trials of modification parameters for the representative recovered pulp, referred to the modification agent, method of application etc., were used for a first screening.

Industrial adjustment of modifications
Label Modification agent Concentrations1 Application method2 pH
Control treatments
C Untreated controls
Cpam Cationic agent with commercial name 0.5% / 1% Stock (mass)
FN Cpam from Kemira 0.5% / 1% Stock (mass)
Fibre+ industrial treatments
CMF Cationic melamine formaldehyde 1% / 2% / 5% Stock (mass)
DM-Cpam Combination of DMDHEU with Cpam 1% DMDHEU / 0.5% Cpam
2% DMDHEU / 0.5% Cpam
5% DMDHEU / 0.5% Cpam Stock (mass)
CMF-DM Combination of cationic melamine formaldehyde and DMDHEU 2% CMF / 1% DMDHEU Stock (mass) 7.66
CMF-DM (Acidic) Combination of cationic melamine formaldehyde and DMDHEU on acidic conditions 2% CMF / 1% DMDHEU Stock (mass) 4. 4
CMF-Cpam Combination of cationic melamine formaldehyde and Cpam 1% CMF / 1% Cpam Stock (mass)
DM-m DMDHEU
1% / 2% / 5% Stock (mass)
DM-s DMDHEU
1% / 2% / 5% Immersion (surface)
MDM-m Modified DMDHEU (addition of melamine formaldehyde, 3:1 wt/wt)
1% / 2% / 5% Stock (mass)
MDM-s Modified DMDHEU (addition of melamine formaldehyde, 3:1 wt/wt) 1% / 2% / 5% Immersion (surface)
1) The concentrations represent percentage chemical based on dry fibre (stock preparation) or the solid content of the solution the paper is treated with (immersion). For sheet forming, 2.6 g fibre (oven dry) were dispersed in 260 ml of water.
2) The chemical was either added to the fibre suspension immediately before sheet forming (stock) or handsheets were immerged in an aqueous solution of the chemical (immersion).

The results of first screening were used to optimise the industrial adjustments in a twofold modification approach, wood and paper based. After testing both approaches, the paper based modification approach was selected and further screened for industrial related parameters and tests were carried out. The final chemistry specifications were used to assist the pilot plant design phase and also to prepare two research articles on the fibre modification at peer reviewed journals of the sector. Details on the raw materials, preparation and Material Safety Data Sheet were also provided.
Specifically, the recovered pulp was provided by the paper manufacturing company DSSmith, Witzenhausen, Germany and represents the standard quality of pulp used in the production of packaging grade papers in Europe. As chemical modification largely depends on the specific fibrous materials to be modified, the pulp was first analysed for its fibre composition (qualitative and quantitative fibre analysis) and stock properties. The results provided fundamental information on the qualitative – quantitative characteristics as well as on the properties of the pulp to be used at both the lab and pilot plant stages for fibre+ modifications, e.g. industrial adjustments and implementation at FEX.
The industrial adjustment of modifications (agents and treatments) described previously included a
A twofold approach was used for further industrial adjustment of Fibre+ modifications: paper-based and wood-based. For the paper-based approach, the chemicals used were combinations of cationic melamine formaldehyde (cMF), c-PAM and cationic DMDHEU (cDMDHEU) and specifically cationic melamine formaldehyde, cationic melamine formaldehyde-acidic, cationic melamine formaldehyde, cationic polyacrylamide, 2 dual treatments of cMF and c-PAM, low free formaldehyde DMDHEU, low pH DMDHEU, concentrations varying from 1 to 5%, delivery at stock, and conditions (a) 93oC temperature and 8 minutes contact time (b) 130oC temperature and 30 minutes contact time. The wood-based approach involved modification of the recycled paper before pulping. This approach would allow the consortium to check the full spectra of fibre modification opportunities and also would serve as an alternative contingency plan in case of promising results. A specific recycled paper grade was used for modification and it was delivered in sufficient quantity by the company DSSPaperIT. After modification of the recycled paper materials, the handsheets produced were located in the oven at 120°C for 15 and 30 minutes. The chemicals used were 10% cMF, 10% cDMDHEU, and 5% AKD. The properties measured for both approaches were tensile strength, SCT, bursting strength, recyclability (with same approach like Task 2.1 including MORFI analysis), and fines content. The final selection would largely be based on the industrial relevant properties SCT and bursting strength which are essential for packaging products. The results did not show any improvement for the wood based approach. Specifically, this approach to pre-modify paper to higher weight percent gain (higher than 10%) in a comparable way as applied the wood modification industry resulted in reduced tensile strength. This was attributed to an increased content of the modifying chemical on the fibre surface and/or to an increased rigidity of the fibres which leads to a reduction in flexibility of the fibres. Both modes of action resulted in limited H-bonding and thus less adhesion between the fibres. Therefore, it was decided not to proceed further with this approach and focus the adjustments only to the paper based approach. The latest was also preferable for the participating paper companies. The results of paper-based approach were promising: (a) the dual treatment 1% cPAM + 5% cMF was the best from point of view of mechanical properties (SCT and burst index) of the treatments studied improving over 40% these properties comparing to the untreated sample (control); (b) higher curing conditions of the 5% cMF and 1% cPAM + 5% cMF treatments decreased the mechanical properties (SCT and burst index) of the handsheets. In this case, the fibres did not disperse using the standard disintegration conditions (10 min and 30,000 revolutions) as shown the results of the number of fibres, fines and aggregates; (c) most of morphological parameters decreased with the recyclability cycles (width of the fibres, microfibrils, broken ends and fines). The recyclability study shows that the number of fines was reduced by 40% after three recycling steps because we are not working with a closed water circuit. However this will not happen at industrial scale; (d) SCT and burst index increased with higher slope after the first recycling cycle with all treatments. Then, the values remained almost stable and with less differences between chemical treatments; (e) the mechanical properties varied slightly when the dual treatment 1% cPAM + 5% cMF was used from point of view of the recyclability.

Preparations for the pilot plant and industrial phases of fibre modification
Evaluation of the production processes of the participating SME papermaker
AS RPV mill is a developing paper production plant, which uses recycled packaging grades and waste paper collected in Estonia as raw material. AS RPV mill’s production includes various types of paper, test liner and cardboard that provides the material for manufacturing high-quality wrapping corners, art and office supplies. The stock preparation system at the mill is of type TumPulping and was installed in the 2006- 07. The system consists of: Feed system, Two pulpers: primary and secondary, Two stage hydrocyclone high density cleaning, Two stage screen cleaning, and Reject washing drum. The AS RPV paper machine is of the older type with: An open headbox, Wire section: approx. 5 m long and 1.57 width, 2 stage press section (one steel roll and a suction roll in the 1st stage, and one steel and one soft roll in the 2nd stage), Dry section that consists of 12 warm steel cylinders, and A take-up roller for collecting the paper.

Forming and drying sections at AS RPV mill

At present, the AS RPV mill does not use any strength or retention additives in their paper production to keep the cost low. The first assessment is that introduction of CPAM would require less rebuilding and new equipment. According to the mill manager, the strength properties of their products are lower than the corresponding products made by the competitors.

Design of a generic Fibre+ handling systems
The Fibre+ concept coming form results in WP2 imply wet and dry strengthening of testliner using wet strength agent cMF (cationic melamine formaldehyde) and dry strength agent cPAM (cationic polyacrylamide). The proposed chemicals are aimed to be added to pulp suspension in an approach system of the paper machine at the dosage position(s) that ensures the best conditions for the reaction between resins and fibres and thus the resin efficiency. The important issue in connection to addition of dry or wet strength agents is to have a good knowledge about the composition of the raw material. The performance of any additives is dependent upon how well it is retained on the fibre. The efficiency of wet-strength and dry-strength resins is influenced by charge level in the stock, pH, and content of mineral salts, temperature, anionic contaminants, fines and fillers and other additives. The resin adsorption process is more rapid and complete at higher consistency (thick stock) because the polymer molecules have shorter travel distance before colliding with a fibre surface. To gain even resins spreading it is important to ensure that very good mixing occurs at the point of addition on the paper machine.
The proposed cMF resin is a heat-setting agent which gives cross-linked three dimensional networks at elevated temperature mainly in the dryer and during storage. The MF resins itself is not consider to be a risk for human health but can irritate skin, eyes and lungs and should be handled accordingly. However, cMF represent a risk to the environment because is it toxic to aquatic organisms. It is of great importance to secure high retention level of cMF on fibres. Furthermore, formaldehyde monomer which is present in small quantities in cMF is classified as toxic and may be released, especially during curing at elevated temperatures. Sufficient ventilation is required especially in the dryer (curing zone) and in the whole machine room.
The cPAM that is proposed in Fibre+ concept is of the type that is used as dry strength agent. CPAM is not classified as dangerous to the health or ecologically harmful. Still at contact the chemical can irritate skin and eyes. Protective clothing and gloves are recommended when dealing with the chemical. Only a very rough estimation of the budget for a generic Fibre+ handling system could be made. There are two options for calculating the budget when introducing Fibre+ concept in the mill: the suggested chemicals are new in the mill and replace other agent(s) in the mill.
The cost for introducing the new equipment is estimated to 30,000 to 50,000 euros plus cost for chemicals depending on the production level in the mill. The price per kilo active agent is between 0.92 to 1.28 euro for cMF. The mentioned sum does not include measurement and control system because most of the modern mills today have the systems that can be extended with additional needs for control. In the second case no addition costs in connection to introduction of Fibre+ concept are expected. Depending on the available equipment at the mill, there is also a possibility that the mill will have additional costs for handling of white water containing residue resins and extension of ventilation system and/or additional air cleaning. However these types of costs were impossible to estimate.

Design of a Fibre+ demonstration at a selected mill
It was described a design of the Fibre+ concept at AS RPV mill and suggestions for demonstration trials to be performed at INNVENTIA on the pilot paper machine FEX. The Fibre+ concept implies strengthening of testliner using chemicals to be added to pulp suspension in an approach system of a paper machine. AS RPV mill do not use any paper chemicals but the introduction of starch is planned in the near future. For AS RPV mill Fibre+ concept implies introduction of new chemicals and installation of the chemical handling system. Before introduction of this kind of chemicals the environmental impact assessment has to be done.

Principal picture of the FEX paper machine

The goal for the trials on FEX was to demonstrate that by using suggested chemicals the properties of testliner can be improved. The trials were planned to be performed using a Fourdrinier forming section at the lowest possibly machine speed and paper with a grammage of 100 g/m2 to be produced. Paper rolls from AS RPV should be used as a raw material.
When steady state has been reached for each trial in the process, pulp samples at different positions on the paper machine are collected for determination of pulp consistency, pH, conductivity and cationic demand and/or z-potential. Wet paper web samples are taken at two positions: after coach and after 3rd press to determine web dryness that is a measure of paper web dewatering ability. A list of sampling points can be seen in table below.

Sampling list during FEX trials
Sample Consistency/ dryness Conductivity, µS/cm pH Cationic demand
Pulp - storage chest X X X X
Pulp after resin dosage X X X X
Headbox, each trial point X X X X
Wire pit, each trial point X X X X
Wet sample after couch X
Wet samples after 3rd press X

The chemicals should be handled according to safety data sheets. There are several environmental considerations in connection to Fibre+ demonstration trials at FEX.
FEX is a pilot machine where the operation is open to the surrounding air and discharge waste and water to the municipal plant. This puts restrictions on the use of the pilot plant in other ways than might be the case for an industrial mill site. The sections below summarize some issues connected directly to handling of raw materials and white water at FEX. After every demonstration trial at FEX there are a “left overs” of chemicals in the chests which has to be send for destruction.
Only a small amount of stock that is used during the trials on FEX paper machine is collected as paper samples for evaluation of the trials and thus most of the pulp ends up as broke. Usually at FEX produced broke is collected in a special container and transported to the company that trades with the recycled fibers. When running with cMF, broke will be contaminated with uncured agent and cannot be handled in a standard way and has to be send for destruction. The amount of broke with uncured resin is estimated to be approx. 4 t.
After the trial part the white water from FEX is used for dilution of broke and the rest is disposed to municipal system. When running with cMF the unretained resin will end up in white water and cannot be handled in the same way and may have to be send for destruction. The amount of white water with uncured resin is estimated to be approx. 30 – 40 m3.
Sufficient ventilation is required not only around the curing zone, around the area where the chemicals are prepared, but in the whole machinery hall.

Additional lab tests necessary to better select the products for the pilot trials
The modification treatments previously identified were further studied and enriched to enable a pilot plant implementation of Fibre+ modifications. According to the testing and conclusions in WP2, potential for testing at the pilot plant stage showed the modifications firstly 1% cPAM and secondly 2% cMF. The property values provided by 1% cPAM were the baseline as well as the low concentration of chemicals (1%). Higher concentrations were excluded for economic reasons. Further fine tuning (e.g. chemistry improvements and combination with other products) was needed for the selected modifications 1% cPAM and 2% cMF before any of them could enter the pilot plant phase.
The consortium decided not to proceed with the melamine modification. That was mainly for environmental and health reasons associated with the presence of formaldehyde. Furthermore, it become apparent that melamine would be a more costly solution than cPAM. This fact, together with the conclusion in WP2 that DMDHEU was no longer an option as the properties SCT and burst were diminished by the modification, has shifted the direction of the Fibre+ project from its original wood-based modification of fibres to the classical solutions of paper chemistry as mentioned in detail in the contingency plans. Nevertheless, melamine was still used in the lab scale trials just in case it could provide extraordinary results to justify the increased costs. Therefore, additional treatments were tested at lab scale to optimise the selection of pilot treatments and to minimise the risk of the project in case the first results from the pilot test at INNVENTIA were not as successful as expected.
Thus, an additional study of alternative and reference chemicals to enable a pilot plant implementation was done.
The recovered paper was provided by the paper manufacturing company AS RPV. This raw material was 100% recycled paper grade from old corrugated board containers (OCC). Twenty one (21) modification chemical agents were studied in this new set of laboratory trials which are classifies as: Cationic melamine formaldehyde (cMF), Cationic polyacrylamide (cPAM), Cationic glyoxalated polyacrylamide (GPAM), Polyvinylamine of cationic charge (cPAV), Polyvinylamine of amphoteric character (APAV), modified cPAM, Starch, and Chitosan.
The different chemical treatments studied (doses of the products and combination of the chemical agents) were based on Focus Beam Reflectance Measurement (FBRM) pre-screening and results of mechanical properties of the modified handsheets. The relationship between flocculation data based on FBRM analysis and final paper properties has to be validated to be able to carry out fast screen experiments.
However, results showed that there is not clear and easy relationship between flocculation data based on FBRM analysis and final paper properties. The main conclusions of the different chemical treatments studied at laboratory scale were:
- GPAM additives: The optimum flocculation dosage of GPAM-1 is the highest one comparing with the other chemical tested. For that reason, the GPAM-1 gives the highest burst and SCT index results with an increase of 60% and over 30% respectively, at 300 kg GPAM-1/t dry pulp comparing with the control (without chemical agents), but this laboratory dosage is extremely high for industrial use. For GPAM-2, the optimum flocculation dosage at 2.5% gives also the optimum burst and SCT index results with an increase of 30% and 16%, respectively
- PAV additives: For the cationic polyvinylamine (cPAV), the medium cationic charge version (cPAV-1 = Xelorex RS1100-BASF) gives the highest burst and SCT index results at the minimum dosage (1%) tested. So this is the selected for the pilot trials
- Modified agents by NTL: For cPAM-1, the burst and SCT index achieve the maximum results at 40 kg commercial cPAM-1/t dry pulp <> 6 kg active cPAM-1/t dry pulp), both parameters increase with the chemical dosage. The application of cMF did not improve the burst and SCT index results compare to cPAM-1 in similar concentration
An additional laboratory scale study has been carried out to evaluate a new kind of additives to improve the mechanical properties of paper. This work involved the application of nanocellulose fibres (NFC) from eucalyptus and pine, to the same raw material (recycled OCC) as in the case of the other additives. The objective of this new additional study is to evaluate the combination of NFC from eucalyptus and pine and modified cPAM to improve the mechanical properties of the recycled OCC feedstock. Although promising results were achieved, the consortium decided not to proceed with this approach mainly due to the increased costs of NFC at the moment.
Based on the overall additional lab testning, the commercial cPVA and the modified CPAM by NTL were selected for the pilot plant FEX trials. GPAM was considered less suitable due to the requirements of high dosages. nformation on the modified CPAM provided by NTL is given below:

Certificate of analysis for modified CPAM – NTL
TEST / CHECK RESULTS SPECIFICATION
APPEARANCE Clear Clear
pH @ 25oC 3.50 3.5 - 4.5
VISCOSITY (IN POISE) @ 25oC 16.0 10 - 30
SOLID CONTENT (IN %) 15.4 15 - 16
CHARGE DENSITY (mekv/g) 0.183

Fibre+ demonstration at the FEX pilot plant
FEX reference and Fibre+ trials
The raw material that was used during the trials was paper rolls from AS RPV mill. The raw material was analysed with respect to fibre charge, fibre dimensions and strength properties.
In order to perform pilot trials at optimal conditions i.e. the right dosage of the chemicals, a determination of chemical reactivity of CPAM (cationic polyacrylamide Fennopol K2120) delivered by Kemira and starch (Solbond PC65) was done. The agents were mixed with pulp at different dosage levels and evaluation of the chemical performance was done as Z-potential and as anionic charge. Based on the results the recommended dosage of starch was about 9 – 10 kg/t pulp and recommended dosage of CPAM was approx. 1.5 kg/t pulp.
The reference and Fibre+ concept pilot trials was performed using a Fourdrinier forming section at the machine speed of 200 m/min and paper with a grammage of approx. 100 g/m2 was produced.At Fibre+ reference trial the same commercial dry strength agents were used as in laboratory study. The dose of both chemicals varied at three levels and they were added at the same position in long circulation which made reaction time for the agents of approx. 8 min. The paper chemicals used and the dosage positions are shown in the tables and figure below:

Paper chemicals used in Fibre+ reference and Fibre+ concept FEX pilot trials
Chemical type Brand name Supplier Charge Trial
Starch Solbond PC65 Lyckeby High charged Reference/Fibre+ concept
CPAM Fennopol K2120T Kemira 0,6 mekv/g Reference
mCPAM Novamax DSR-300 NTL 0,183 mekv/g Fibre+ concept
PVA Xelorex RS1100 BASF Medium charged Fibre+ concept

Dosage positions for chemicals during the trials on the FEX paper machine

Trial points during reference trial. The dosage levels are specified as active agent per tonne pulp
Trial point CPAM Fennopol K2120T, kg/t Starch Solbond PC65, kg/t
A - -
B 1.0
C 1.5
D 2.0
E 5.0
F 7.5
G 10.0

Trial points during day 1 of the trials. The dosage levels are specified as active agent per tonne pulp
Trial point CPAM Novamax DSR-300, kg/t Starch Solbond PC65, kg/t Dosage point Reaction time
A - - - -
B 1 - Before headbox through a valve 7 s
C 2 - “ 7 s
D 1 - Before headbox through Ecowirl 7 s
E 2 - “ 7 s
F 2 - Early in the process 8 min
G 10 “ 8 min

Trial points during day 2 of the trials
Trial point PVA Xelorex RS1100, kg/t Starch Solbond PC65, kg/t Dosage point Reaction time
A - - - -
B 1 - Before headbox through a valve 7 s
C 0.5 - “ 7 s
D 1 - Before headbox through Ecowirl 7 s
E 0,5 - “ 7 s
F 1,0 - Early in the process 8 min
G - 10 Before headbox through a valve 7 s
H - 10 Before headbox through Ecowirl 7 s

Two dosage positions were applied during Fibre+ concept trials i.e. to long circulation (as in reference trial) and before headbox after headbox pump. At a dosage point near the headbox, two methods for mixing the chemicals with pulp were tested i.e. standard way through a valve and through a recently developed mixing device Ecowirl. In standard case the chemicals were diluted 10 times before the valve. With Ecowirl the additives with a high solid content were added directly to pulp at the same time as water was added trough Ecowirl. Chemical performance was followed during the trails by measurements of fibre Z-potential.

Fibre and paper testing, and recyclability results from pilot trials
Reference pilot trial
Reference cPAM (Fennopol K2120T-Kemira) increases the fibres width and the amount of microfibrills in 7.5% and 9% respectively comparing with the control paper sample produced on FEX without additives. The number of fibres and fines are lower than the untreated sample. The amount of aggregates increases with the dosage level in a range between 33 and 77%
Reference CPAM (Fennopol K2120T-Kemira) did not show any significant effect on mechanical properties (burst index and SCT index MD)
Reference starch (Solbond P65) increases the fibres width with the dosage level achieving the highest value (26.7 μm) at 10 kg/t. The microfibrills level also increase with the starch addition around 11% comparing with the untreated sample. The number of fibres and fines are lower than the untreated sample. The number of aggregates is higher than the untreated sample with an increase around 40%, but lower than cPAM paper samples
Reference starch (Solbond P65) increases burst index in 6.5% and 9% for 5 and 10 kg/t, respectively. SCT index (Nm/g) MD increases with the starch dosification achieving a maximum value of 26.9 Nm/g at 10 kg/t. SCT index (Nm/g) CD values improve around 5% for 5 and 10 kg/t starch dosages. For both chemical agents, the porosity level increases with the chemical dosage and in case of CPAM this variation is greater achieving the highest porosity level (3.37 ml/min or 36 s) at 2 kg/t
For both chemical agents, the porosity level increases with the chemical dosage and in case of cPAM this variation is greater achieving the highest porosity level (3.37 ml/min or 36 s) at 2 kg/t
Fibre+ concept pilot trial
The Figure below shows one example of results from paper testing from pilot trials.

SCT index (N·m/g) of the different Fibre+ pilot trials

• Modified cPAM (NTL) did not show significant changes in the morphological parameters comparing to the untreated sample
• Modified cPAM (NTL) did not show a significant improvement on burst index comparing to the control sample. Using Ecowirl mixing system and 2 kg/t of cPAM-1, SCT index (Nm/g) increases over 5% in both directions (MD and CD). Tensile strength increased by cPAM when added at the head-box position (7% for 2 Kg/t and 10% for 1 Kg/t). There was no effect on the delamination resistance. A small increase of 7% in tearing resistance was noted by using 1Kg/t cPAM at the head-box position. A very strong increase (58%) in bending resistance was noted by 1 Kg/t added close to the head-box followed by 2 Kg/t cPAM also added close to the head-box with Ecowirl (44%)
• High-molar-mass polyvinylamine of medium cationic charge cPAV-1 (Xelorex RS1100-BASF) decreases the number of fibres and fines comparing with the control sample. This was due to the formation of aggregates in special when 1 kg/t of chemical agent is used. Fibre width and microfibrills also increase comparing to the untreated sample
• High-molar-mass polyvinylamine of medium cationic charge cPAV-1 (Xelorex RS1100-BASF) did not show any effect on mechanical properties (burst index and SCT index MD). Also, there was no effect on tensile strength, tearing resistance and delamination resistance. The addition of 1.0 kg/t cPAV close to the head-box and Ecowirl had a very strong positive impact (40%) on the bending resistance
• Commercial starch (Solbond P65-SolAM) shows the same morphological trend as cPAV. Nevertheless, these variations are lower than the polyvinylamine ones
• Commercial starch (Solbond P65) increase burst index from 5% to 10% comparing to the control sample. SCT index (Nm/g) also increase in all starch pilot plant trials. The best dosage point of the starch is early in the process with an increase of SCT index (Nm/g) over 10%. Using starch at the head-box position together with Ecowirl had a positive effect on tensile strength increasing the values by 11%. The delamination resistance was increased at 22-27% in all trials by using starch. Starch close to the head-box increased the bending resistance with the Ecowirl playing no particular role (24-28%), it was slightly decreased by starch early at the process.
The extended mixing of chemicals and fibres with EcoWirl did not improve the reactivity (except for one case) of the chemicals with fibres.
The recyclability of selected paper samples manufactured in the FEX pilot plant trials (control and modified cPAM) was also evaluated. For each recyclability cycle, new pulping and sheet paper manufacturing were carried out. In every recycling stage, mechanical properties (bursting index and short-span compressive strength test index) and all morphological parameters have been evaluated.
For both paper samples (control and cPAM-1), the mechanical properties (bursting and SCT index) are almost equal for the original samples and for each recyclability cycle. Bursting index is slightly reduced with the number of cycles whereas there are not variations of SCT index with the number of cycles. Most of morphological parameters decrease after three recyclability cycles (width of the fibres, microfibrills, broken ends, aggregates and fines). Only in fines number there is a significative difference between cPAM and untreated samples. The samples modified with cPAM as chemical agent have higher number of fines between 13 and 19% than the untreated sample. The developed treatment within Fibre+ does not have any significant negative effect on recyclability.

DATABASE screenshot on reference pilot plant trials (morphological characterization data)
A database DB MODIFIED FIBRES AND PRODUCTS was created containing data on the characteristics and properties of the modified pulps and paper products from laboratory and FEX pilot plant trials. An example of the structure of the DATABASE is shown in the figure above. This database includes:
- Laboratory results from the additional lab tests necessary to better select the products for the pilot tests
- Results of the modified pulps and papers products manufactured in the FEX pilot plant using the Fibre + modifications
The structure of this database allows an easy comparison between unmodified and modified pulps and products. The comparisons should serve to evaluate the enhancement achieved through modifications treatments studied for a specific packaging application. After comparison, if it is necessary, the modification treatments developed should be optimised accordingly.
For predicting the properties of corrugated boards that can be produced using paper having the properties worked out in the Fibre + Project, the ModelPACK software tool was used. The software is an advanced quality prediction tool developed to facilitate knowledge-driven packaging design and manufacturing. The idea of predicting properties by ModelPACK is based on a comprehensive database of raw materials, the classification of grade papers and the investigation of grade paper properties that led to the development of a software tool that can be used to predict the structural properties of corrugated board. The ModelPACK tool is a series of statistical models based on the following parameters:
• Paper measurements and characteristics
- analysis of the major paper types, including kraftliners, testliners and recycled papers
- categorisation of the main medium materials, namely semi-chemical and fully recycled fluting papers
- determination of the critical anatomical, physical and mechanical properties
• Corrugated board measurements and characteristics
- determination of the critical anatomical, physical and mechanical properties
A series of modelling processes have been performed to obtain the prediction of corrugated board properties influenced by several additives to the basic process of paper production.
An example of ModelPack modelling for cPAM and Starch papers is shown below:

As only a slight improvement of paper parameters has been observed so it conveys on only slight improvement of predicted corrugated cardboard properties, when control corrugated parameters have been compare to the parameters obtain for modified papers. The deeper research and measurements of papers parameters can lead to more accurate prediction of corrugated board properties. An industrial validation process should be taken into consideration to come closer to the proper assessment of modelled corrugated cardboard properties. It could be a basis for further modelling of industrial corrugated board boxes properties and their functionality in different climate conditions.

Final remarks on the pilot trials
The strength properties of the control samples (without chemicals) and samples with starch added early in the process produced during reference trials and during Fibre+ concept trials were comparable. This means that the trials were accomplished in similar way at both occasions.
The positive effects seen in the laboratory were not fully repeated in the pilot trials. However, it is not unusual that the pilot plant cannot capture the sensitivity of lab-scale experimentation nor simulate the industrial conditions. The consortium is confident on the validity of modification, and thus has decided to proceed to the industrial validation of Fibre+.

Industrial implementation of Fibre+

Fibre+ concept trial results
AS RPV mill uses 8,000 tons furnish per year in its production. Recycled pulp in the mill consists of approx. 80% OCC (Old corrugated container) and approx. 20% graphical post-consumer grades. In AS RPV’s mill production consists of various types of paper, testliner and cardboard that provide the material for manufacturing high-quality wrapping corners, art and office supplies which can be recovered and customized. The products have a grammage range from 200 g/m2 to 350 g/m2. The mill does not use any paper chemicals to gain low costs.
The goal for this trial was to produce paper using addition of mCPAM at two dosage levels and compare the resulting paper with that from a normal production at AS RPV mill. That is paper from the same kind of pulp but without any addition of paper chemicals. That reference paper is a testliner with a grammage of approx. 200 g/m². The process conditions were in line with normal conditions the mill following the recommendations on how to apply the final Fibre+ concept. i.e. use of the mCPAM from NTL. The following pulp characteristics were obtained at the mill trials.

Pulp properties during the Fibre+ trial
Sample Consistency/ dryness g/l Conductivity, mS/cm pH
Pulp - storage chest 30-35 4.0-4.2 5.2-5.7
Headbox pump 9-10 3.4-3.7 5.2-5.7
White water 0.9 3.4-3.7 5.2-5.7

Samples from the pulp chest and headbox were investigated using the methodology to determine the anionic charge. The same levels of anionic charge were obtained in both storage chest and headbox for all dosage levels. Thus, no reaction of mCPAM with anionic trash was detectible.

Pulp properties anionic charge [mekv/l]
Sampling point Trial point
0 kg/ton 2 kg/ton 4 kg/ton
Pulp chest 0.26 0.27 0.26
Headbox 0.28 0.26

The addition of mCPAM did not affect the retention of minerals, the ash contents were on the same level, approx. 13%, using the Fibre+ concept as was for the reference mill trial.
The major result was a pronounced increase of the strength properties, as illustrated below in a number of histograms. In summary, the effect was highest for 4 kg/ton mCPAM for which the following effects were measured (see also figures below).
- Tensile index by 46%
- Stretch at break by 40%
- TEA by 105%
- SCT index by 35%
- Burst index by 60%
- Z-tensile strength by 49%
- Air permeance and surface roughness decreased by 13%
- Density increased only by 7%

Tensile Index and geometrical tensile index

Stretch at break

Tensile Energy Absorption (TEA)

SCT strength

Bursting and Z-tensile strength

Air permeance and surface roughness

White water pit and foam at Algas micro filter during 4 kg/ton mCPAM

During the Fibre+ trials, no significant effects were observed for the forming section, neither for the press section nor for the dryers. However, there was considerable foaming of the white waters at 2kg/ton mCPAM application, and serious foaming of the white water at the 4 kg/ton application, figure 15. Furthermore, at 4 kg/ton, fine foam at the Algas micro thickener reduced its capacity, figure 16. The general belief is that the effects that occurred at 2 kg/ton would be manageable in the mill, but not those that occurred at 4 kg/ton.

Industrial assessment of Fibre+ concept
Energy mapping
Direct electrical power is used in the AS RPV mill to operate stock preparation line and winder. The power consumption for that is estimated to 350 kWh/t. The drying cylinders are warmed by steam produced using natural gas and the energy requirement there is estimated to 850 kWh/t. This energy consumption is assessed from natural gas consumption in the boilers. The machines where energy consumption could be affected by mCPAM were a vacuum pump- running at 50kW and press motors (in our case 4pcs)- total running at 14kW, thus summing up to a total of 173kWh/ton. No changes in energy consumption of these machines where noticed during the trial of the Fibre+ concept.
Wet paper web samples could not be collected after press section. Thus, the web dryness could not be used to assess the web dewatering ability. However, no changes in energy consumption for the dryer section where found during the trials with mCPAM (i.e. the consumption of natural gas was the same for the Fibre+ concept trial as for the reference trial). This indicates that the Fibre+ concept did not affect the web dryness after press section, compared to the reference testliner production in AS RPV mill.
Paper recyclability
Studies on the recyclability of papers manufactured with the Fibre+ concept at the AS RPV mill were performed. The conclusions were:
- For both paper samples (control and cPAM-1), the mechanical properties (bursting and SCT index) were almost equal for the original samples and for each recyclability cycle
- Bursting index was slightly reduced with the number of cycles whereas there were no variations of SCT index with the number of cycles
- Most of morphological parameters decreased after three recyclability cycles (width of the fibres, microfibrills, broken ends, aggregates and fines). Only in fines number there was a significant difference between cPAM and untreated samples. The samples modified with cPAM as chemical agent had higher number of fines between 13 and 19% than the untreated sample
Thus, the developed treatment within FIBRE+ does not have any significant negative effect on paper recyclability.
Possible benefits of the Fibre+ concept
There are many SME mills in Europe that might take advantage of the Fibre+ concept to improve their products, based on recycled fibres, produced on elderly and small paper machines. For example, the running conditions seemed to be acceptable at a dosage of 2 kg/ton active agent of mCPAM from NTL. Even though the effect was not the highest for this dosage it sill delivered for example approx. 30% increase in Tensile Index and 25-30% increase in SCT at AS RPV mill. Similar improvemnets could be exploited in different ways for different paper producers to improve the performance of boards and boxes in the corrugated sector. For instance, Fibre+ technology might be applied to reduce the grammage and thus fibre raw material while maintaining the same strength levels. Or it could be applied to expand the production of a mill into new product segments.
As a validation of the final process concept of Fibre+ the following modelling has been carried out by DSSPaperIT with the active support of one of its sister companies, which is a corrugated board and packaging manufacturer. The starting point was the SCT geometric mean showing a percentage increase of 27.0%, with a dosage of 20 kg/ton of modified cPAM Fibre+ chemical for the As RPV testliner:
Geometric mean being calculated from the Machine Direction (MD) and Cross Direction (CD) values

The ECR in the cross-direction crushing of a CB (Corrugated Board) is measured through the Edge Crush Test (ECT). The ECR can also be calculated and it is fundamental to describe the mechanical characteristics of the CB. In turn, the ECR can be used to calculate the BCR (see below). The following equation, descending from the DS Smith Lucca plants statistical database, has been adopted and used for this work:

The ECT value is in kN/m.

The 1.42 factor is the so called “take-up factor” which is used to consider the fact that the length of the flute medium in the CB is higher than the one of the liners, thanks to the fact the it is fluted.
The BCR (Box Compression Resistance) is measured through the Box Compression Test, by using a dynamometer whose load cell is set to record the force applied (in N) when the box collapses. At DSSPaperIT plants in Lucca the simplified McKee equation is used on a daily base, hence this work in the frame of Fibre+ project has been carried out following the uses of DSSPaperIT. The simplified McKee equation for box compression:

ECR: edge compression resistance (kN/m)
Z: box footprint perimeter (cm)
h: thickness of the CB (mm)
1.82: constant related to the form and size of the box
BCR’s measuring unit: kN

This simplified equation in one of the commonly referenced empirical estimations (published by McKee in 1963) and involves the board ECR, the board thickness and the box perimeter.
The next table shows how the ECT calculated (including the correction factor) increases, when the Fibre+ increase of SCT (+27%) is applied, assuming that all the papers that make up the CBs underwent to the Fibre+ 20 kg/ton c-PAM treatment. It is self-evident that the ECT increase is exactly the same as the SCT (+27%), thanks to the linear correlation described above.

In the next three tables, calculations of BCT show how much the ECT vary in the case that the paper components that make up the CB are subject to the increase of Fibre+ treatment (+27%) described above, respectively: only one of the two external layers (table a), both the external layers (table b), and only the flute (inner layer) (table c).

Table a

Table b

Table c

In all cases described above the increase of the properties of the CB components coming from the application of the Fibre+ treatment lead to increases of the finished CB properties. If the Fibre+ treatment is applied only to some of the components of the CB, the increase of the ECT is still significant, meaning that one can decide how to modulate the use of Fibre+ treated/non treated papers according to his/her needs. Having this possibility, means that the savings coming from the reduction of the weight of the papers at the same SCT levels may be modulated consequently.
The following table shows how the BCT is increasing when the Fibre+ treatment is applied to all the paper components of the CB that is finally used to produce the corrugated box.

Again, the original properties are compared with the ones that are achievable through the Fibre+ treatment and, again, the linear correlation between the parameters lead to increases that are the same as the ones that are coming from the application of the Fibre+ treatment.
In conclusion, following the results that have been reached at the AS RPV mill industrial trial, some predictions on the consequences on the mechanical properties of finished corrugated boxes have been made, showing that any increase of the mechanical properties of the paper is reflected in the finished corrugated board (CB) and boxes. This is descending from the well-established uses of the corrugating sector, where predicting the final properties values is of utmost importance but also not too complex. The Fibre+ concept is expected to provide the corrugators with an increase of mechanical properties of their products which is strictly linked to the paper properties increase. The number of possible combinations in projecting the finished corrugated boards and boxes is of great help in providing the possibility to modulate the choice of the Fibre+ treated layers/components.

Potential Impact:
NOTABENE: A .pdf VERSION OF THIS SECTION WITH READABLE TABLES, GRAPHS AND PICTURES IS ATTACHED TO THIS REPORT AS ANNEX 2.
Importance of the project
Fibre+ project through the implementation of an innovative process based on modification of recovered fibres had a defined objective to support the competitiveness of the SMEs in the packaging sector in Europe. The project aimed at an economic benefit to paper and packaging manufacturing of the SMEs of the sector through a twofold approach:
- More economic and sustainable packaging
- Achievement of target paper properties with fewer materials
It is evident that by improving the performance and functionalities of packaging materials opens new possibilities for both cost reduction and quality increase in packaging design and manufacturing. It is expected that many other European and global enterprises will be interested in this technology, which ensures quality of production and reduce of material costs. Applications of Fibre+ in a European and global dimension and expected licences/ agreements thereafter ensure a sound investment of the SME-AGs and REA funds.
Optimised packaging improves the quality of life by enabling products to be supplied with safety, in an affordable and environmentally sound manner. The project results focus on the technical and economical quality of the most important packaging material (corrugated board) and thus contribute to this perspective of packaging. The more effective utilisation of recycled waste paper fits to EU policies for improving the quality of life of the consumer society.
The corrugated packaging industry belongs also to the EU Forest-based industries which constitute one of Europe's largest industrial sectors, providing employment and income to some 2.6 million people directly and accounting for around 10% of the European manufacturing industry's total value of production, value added and employment.
To develop modern packaging products with improved, functional and standardised characteristics helps to strengthen the position of paper as raw material in the field of packaging and is a contribution for a better use of recovered paper and its fibres. This results in a higher ecological value and a greater protection in the European forests as a whole.

Assessment of the Fibre+ project results on SMEs competitiveness
There are two main aspects to consider when analysing the impact of Fibre+ on the competiveness of SMEs of the sector:
1. The results of the Fibre+ project in relations to the state of the art of the paper and converting mills.
- The different levels of evaluation of the impact of the Fibre+ concept on industrial processes that were envisaged have led to the clear conclusion that this concept can be implemented in all the types of productions processes along the supply chain with no negative impacts at all on them. In particular:
o At the paper mills: the pilot plan tests and the industrial trial have confirmed that the Fibre+ concept is fully applicable in the very large majority of the existing production paper mills and, especially, in the SMEs as their equipment are already suitable for implementing the Fibre+ technology
o At the corrugating and box production plants: the properties of the Fibre+ treated papers are such that they do not cause any problem or disturbance nor require investments in the corrugation/box production plants
o It is evident that this especially holds true for the SMEs. The implementation of the Fibre+ concept can be done without investments or with very small and affordable ones; there is no need for extra or advanced knowledge, which may be difficult to find by the SMEs, if compared with their actual state of the art
o In relation to the bottlenecks that had been identified at the beginning of the project, it also clear that the Fibre+ concept can coexist with and even help in resolving them. One on all, the possibility to reduce the costs keeping the same quality or to improve the quality at the same costs level.
2. The opportunities for the supply chain actors to take advantage from the results of the Fibre+ project: this is in terms of looking at the possibility that the Fibre+ concept has to clear some of those bottlenecks, as well as on its potential to improve the products quality through improving their properties.
- In the light of the results at both stages, the paper production and the converting operations, no problems have been highlighted in the implementation of the Fibre+ concept at production level but, in addition to this, there are also more than concrete possibilities that this concept helps in clearing some of the bottleneck, especially those related to recycled-based papers and finished materials. In particular:
o Sources and availability of raw materials, quality of raw materials and handling and processing of raw materials: as already said, the Fibre+ concept has no negative impacts handling and processing recycled raw materials. Furthermore, a series of confirmation has come from all the laboratory, the pilot plant and the industrial tests that have been carried out showing that the Fibre+ concept can improve the quality of papers and of finished corrugated articles: this leads to the search of sources of these raw materials that can be easier, as lower quality grades can be used to obtain the same quality levels in the case of use of higher grades without using the Fibre+ concept. It is self-evident that this fact has important and positive effects on costs. This latter is valid for the entire chain, from recycled fibres procurement, to papermaking and converting processes
o Grammage: this parameter is linked to the mechanical characteristics and to costs. The significant increases of the mechanical properties of papers and finished converted articles obtained with the use of the Fibre+ concept are such as to conclude that they have been obtained with no variations of the substance. This means that with the same grammage (hence with the same costs) higher performances (higher quality) can be obtained
o Strength and water repellency: these are important physical characteristics, that may influence equally important properties, such as the glueability and the printability of the papers that make up the corrugated boards and boxes. No significant variations of these properties have been seen by using the Fibre+ concept, meaning that the final quality of corrugated articles are not negatively impacted, as well as the production efficiency.
o Costs: for self-evident reasons, there is the possibility to reduce costs, as explained here above
o For corrugated sheets and boxes manufacturing, the Board Composition, i.e. the designing the finished products, is helped by the possibility to choose for which paper component(s) the Fibre+ concept has to be used. This is complementary to the already existing possibilities and advantages that the modulability of corrugated products’ design provides the sector operators
o The quality (for example ECT, bending stiffness, COBB) but especially the ECT, is a property that is relevant to mechanical characteristics of the corrugated boards and has direct influence on finished boxes quality. It has been shown that the quality of the papers, and hence of the converted product, is positively influenced by the use of the Fibre+ concept

Validation of Fibre+ project results by a packaging producer
The final process concept of Fibre+ has been validated one of the enterprise partners (DSSPaperIT) with the active support of one of its sister companies, which is a corrugated board and packaging manufacturer.
The mechanical properties of the materials (papers/corrugated boards and corrugated boxes) have been taken in consideration at this stage. The results of the paper mill trials (AS RPV), showing the increase of the most significant mechanical properties by using the Fibre+ concept have been used to predict the potential increase of the finished products (corrugated board and packaging). The improvements on the finished paper induced by the use of the Fibre+ concept have been confirmed and are reflected in significant improvements of the corrugated boards as well as of the finished packaging products, as far as the mechanical properties are concerned. This is attributable also to the peculiar properties of the material (the corrugated board) which has been confirmed as being the most suitable one to exploit the Fibre+ technology, confirming in this way that the original choice of approaching this material is correct, given the very peculiar structure of this material. The table here below clearly shows the results obtained with use of the Fibre+ chemical at a paper mill.

All those that are listed in the table are mechanical properties, with the exception of the three that are marked in yellow, namely, the substance (grammage), the thickness and the density. Concerning these latter, the variation of the substance between the standard run (0 kg cPAm) and the trials (20 and 40 kg cPAM) are substantially insignificant, given that the +2% and -2% variations of this parameter that are shown in the table are papermaking process physiological variations. In fact, they are coming from the intrinsic papermaking process variability. It has to be highlighted that the increases of the mechanical properties (all of them have increased) it is such as to conclude that they have been obtained without increasing the substance: it is self-evident that increasing mechanical properties at constant substance means a potential reduction of costs.
The use of the Fibre+ concept has led to significant increases of all the relevant values, even at the lower dosage level of 20 kg/ton of the Fibre+ chemical. The SCT geometric mean has increased a percentage increase of 27.0%, with a dosage of 20 kg/ton of modified cPAM Fibre+ chemical. For the sake of clarity, it has to be said that this is, indeed, quite a significant increase, but also that it should be interpreted in the light of more considerations that any paper making expert would do, in the case of improvements from a mill trial of this magnitude order. In fact, having such an increase of the paper mechanical properties is not quite usual. On the other hand, it is for sure that any increase (even lower that this) in the papers’ properties is directly reflected into the finished corrugated products properties and this is confirmed by consolidated prediction methodology as well as experience widely diffused in the corrugated boards field as well as tests that have been carried out also at laboratory level. The Fibre+ concept is expected to provide the corrugators with an increase of mechanical properties of their products which is strictly linked and directly proportional to the paper properties increase. The figure here below shows the sequence from paper to finished boxes, which are regulated by directly proportional functions linking the papers’ properties to the finished boxes.
Paper for corrugated board box Properties/Measuring methods
SCS/SCT (Short span Compression Strength/Test)

ECR/ECT (Edge Compression Resistance/Test)

BCR/BCT (Box Compression Resistance/Test)

On the dosages of the Fibre+ chemical, it can be stated that those that have been tested at the paper mill may be considered as being in line with the usual ones of some process aids. It is the opinion of the partners of the Fibre+ consortium that there is still space for reducing the dosages and that the results will be interesting and useful, anyhow. As an example of this, a linear interpolation to calculate the results that may be obtained by dosing 10 kg c-PAM/ton of pulp is shown in the table here below.

PS20150017-00 0 kg-cPAM 10 kg-cPAM LINEAR INTERPOLATION 20 kg-cPAM 40 kg-cPAM Δ% 10 kg Δ% 20 kg Δ% 40 kg
Grammage 220,2 222,4 224,6 215,9 g/m² 0,98% 1,94% -1,91%
Thickness 337 329,3 322 315 µm -2,26% -4,62% -6,91%
Density 654 675,9 698 686 kg/m³ 3,39% 6,56% 4,65%
0 kg-cPAM 10 kg-cPAM LINEAR INTERPOLATION 20 kg-cPAM 40 kg-cPAM
SCT MD 4,54 5,1 5,69 6,07 kN/m 12,60% 22,38% 26,94%
SCT CD 2,89 3,3 3,73 3,83 kN/m 14,37% 25,13% 25,21%
SCT geometrical average 3,63 4,1 4,60 4,82 kN/m 13,48% 23,76% 26,07%
0 kg-cPAM 10 kg-cPAM LINEAR INTERPOLATION 20 kg-cPAM 40 kg-cPAM
Burst strength 268 342,6 417 431 kPa 27,75% 43,44% 39,10%

Using this very simple interpolation, it is shown that the substance is not supposed to change while the mechanical properties record increases of a magnitude order of 12 to 15%, which are still significant, indeed. The trend is shown in the following graphics. A nonlinear interpolation, as it is suggested by the graphics (red dashed line), may lead even to higher increases of the mechanical properties.

Last but not least, the costs of the Fibre+ chemical is in line with those of other chemicals that are normally used as process aids in the paper industry and, as explained in the relevant project reports, the use of the Fibre+ concept does not raise environmental or safety concerns.

Use of Fibre+ by the sector and economic impact
The application of the Fibre+ technology is expected to increase the competitiveness of corrugated board packaging:
- Within the sector against corrugated competitors not using the technology
- Against returnable plastic crates because of reduced costs and thus a comparative advantage
- The technology offers a special benefit for SMEs in order to increase their competitiveness and balance their differences from big multinational companies who have the resources and tools to manage better the complex problem of improving their fibrous stocks and efficient utilisation of their packaging materials.
- Outside the sector against other materials (e.g. plastic, solid board, wood)
The role and impact of Fibre+ technology in the future scenarios for the packaging sector is as follows:
- Legislation
The proposed technology has no connection to food contact legislation and does not lead to chemical contamination of packaging materials. The waste legislation is more important as the technology enables an improvement of the performance of recycled fibrous raw materials, a more efficient use of raw materials, and therefore a reduced cost for packaging customers. Moreover, it offers a competitive advantage towards other packaging materials. The packaging manufacturers are obliged by the EU Packaging Waste Directives to reduce the weight of packaging waste. Fibre+ technology might be useful in helping companies to reduce the grammage of packaging through use of base papers that meet a specific strength requirement of packaging. It is thus reduces the risk of using heavy papers with no justified reason. It is is also expected to provide a market advantage for the image of our sector by reducing the weight of materials used contributing to reduced CO2 emissions of corrugated packaging in Europe.
A contribution to the goals of dangerous good legislation might be also offered by the use of the technology. It might help companies to avoid under sizing of packaging and make packaging safer.
- Raw material availability
A significant contribution is expected towards upgrading and wise use of fibrous war materials affecting directly the packaging sector. Packaging companies have to utilise the available materials whatever the source is and the role of technology is a contribution towards cost effective use of recycled sources and packaging base papers produced thereof.
- Prices
The technology should be considered as a cost reducing tool and is not necessarily applicable for reduction of prices.
- Competitive sectors and their prospects
Fibre+ technology has been designed to optimise packaging and reduce costs, so to improve the position of corrugated board in the competitive world. As the technology can lead to a better use of available raw materials and possibly to lower material input, the effect on the market could be a better position of corrugated packaging against one of the main competitors which is the plastic industry, sector of returnable plastic crates. The competition in the fruit and vegetable market is tough. If corrugated packaging reduces substantially cost, manufacturers are free to reduce price as well which might have a considerable effect on the market. Besides, the image of the corrugated industry will improve when being able to claim that the raw material usage (=paper) has been reduced. Such a claim would mean a reduced impact of paper product on the environment. The corrugated board industry considers this as an advantage and could market it accordingly.
Experiences gathered during the life time of the project as well comments received during the regional and European dissemination activities (Aticelca Conference-Italy and European Paper Week-Belgium) from a large group of European corrugated packaging companies on which might the future use of the technology by the sector, have led to the following conclusions:
- The technology could be further adapted to specific companies’ needs
- The potential of using cost-effective chemical agents for significantly improving stock quality beyond the levels achieved by the conventional ones could be further explored, especially in the case of SMEs not having access to advanced technologies
- Fibre modification approaches should be of interest for different chemical RTD actors and providers
- Provides possibilities in upgrading and predicting packaging strength
- A future continuous flow of news/ updates will be useful
- Downgrading of grammage of corrugated board (e.g. using base paper with lower grammage but with equal of higher strength) through Fibre+ will be more and more of importance
- Appropriate base paper composition of packaging will be on focus
Other fibre and base paper qualities (e.g. moisture sensitivity) would be a feature of Fibre+ technology for the future.
For the economic impact and possibilities the Fibre+ Technology might provide for the European SMEs, different established routines of the two industrial Associations of the project, CEPI and FEFCO, were followed. For example, one reliable assessment can be offered by using the CEPI based Business Impact Assessment Tool. The cumulative cost impact assessment (CCIA) has been also identified by the EU Commission as one of the main tools to address business environment, regulatory framework and public administration in the EU. A CCIA study for the paper manufacturing has the following objectives:
- Identifying, assessing, and where possible quantifying, the cumulative costs of different actors, measures and even legislation in the sector
- Comparing these costs with the costs of international competitors
- Understanding if and how much these costs impact on the cost structure of the sector and its competitiveness
Thus, it is possible, at any point needed in the future, for CEPI to address competitiveness and other costs associated with the implementation of the Fibre+ Technology in a renewed way based on business reality and fact-based approach. Follow-up measures based on this exercise should be called for by CEPI, provided the outcome of the study is relevant and robust enough. The analysis should be based on a sample of plants, which will be in direct contact with CEPI.

Results of Fibre+ project are further improvable
Improvability of the Fibre+ concept is considered by the partners as being of utmost importance, as the indications descending from its execution are that:
- Results are ready to be successfully used by the SMEs but also
- Are improvable and further developable
The added value of these latter aspects of improvability and further develop ability of results lies in the fact that the Fibre+ concept, as it has been developed by the execution of the project, does not have an end in itself.
At the contrary, it can be considered as being the starting point for further and even more advantageous developments for the industry, in particular, for the SMEs. Indications on how to improve the Fibre+ concept are, amongst others, to investigate the possibility to:
- Apply the Fibre+ concept to the finished products (papers) instead to the fibres when they are still dispersed at the beginning of the paper making process. This latter aspect (high dilution of the fibres) has been dealt at the beginning of the Fibre+ project execution and is the one that has caused the major difficulties in carrying on the R&D work. In the case of the application to the finished products, other original Fibre+ chemicals that than have been put aside during the project execution may be called into play again. This would carry the possibility to widen the range of Fibreplus-like chemicals that can be used, as well as the advantages for the SMEs that may use them
- Further improve the modifications of the chemicals that are at the origin of the Fibre+ treatment, as defined by the project activity, by searching more performing modifications
- Apply the Fibre+ treatment directly to the fibres before they are re-pulped and hence dilutes, meaning applying it to the recycled raw materials. This option had been taken in consideration during the project execution, when difficulties linked to the low efficiency of the chemicals applied to the re-pulped (diluted) fibres became evident. It was then discarded as it would have envisaged carrying out investigations and activities that would have been no longer within the scope of the project. In facts, this option would have required to work in the frame of a batch/non-continuous process that was not in the program of the project. This option can be investigated though a project that may take inspiration from the findings the CEPI Two Team Project (on pulp and paper industry search for breakthrough technology concepts which can enable a competitive future - http://www.cepi.org/system/files/public/documents/publications/innovation/2013/finaltwoteamprojectreport_website_updated.pdf) during year 2013. In particular, synergies derived from the findings of the Two Team project “Supercritical CO2” can be created, as also the development of that project need batch/non-continuous processes to be implemented. Moreover, the CO2 that is used in that concept may be an efficient vehicle for the Fibre+ chemicals to be applied to the fibres, while cleaning them before application of the Fibreplus-like chemicals
- Refine and optimize the use of the Ecowirl technology that has been used in the Fibre+ pilot plan trials (see the relevant reports, including the first period report). This technology is designed to increase the efficiency of the dosage of chemicals at the papermaking process stage of stock preparation
- Investigate the use of nanotechnologies as suggested by the very interesting side research made by the Fibre+ partner UCM, during the execution of the Fibre+ project: “Effect of the nanofiber cellulose on the properties of modified papers”
These indications can be followed up by the SME-AGs partners via their normal network and institutional activities and indications on how to promote the possibilities to improve the Fibre+ concept for the advantage of the SMEs can be formulated and finalized by launching, for example, other R&D projects, being them EC co-financed or not.

Concluding remarks on the importance of Fibre+ for the sector
It can be concluded that the results of the Fibre+ project are such as to:
- do not perturb the production processes (not papermaking nor converting)
- can coexist with the actual bottlenecks of SMEs and even help in clearing some of them
- require no or very small and affordable investments in the very large majority of the supply chain SMEs in Europe (not at the paper mills nor at the converting plans)
- lead to significant increases of the mechanical characteristics with no need to increase the grammage of the papers
- have costs of the chemicals and their dosage that are in line with those of other chemicals that are commonly used in the papermaking as process aids
- do not raise environmental or safety concerns
- are further improvable
In the interpretation of the partners, these results show that the Fibre+ project represents a good opportunity for positively impacting on the corrugated materials supply chain SMEs in Europe and for enabling them to increase their competitiveness, being the Fibre+ concept advantageous, fully accessible and further improvable.
Finally, partners of Fibre+ are also convinced that the original idea of “improving through contamination” from other sectors is still valid, despite they have encountered important, but challenging, problems in transfer technologies from the wood sector to the paper sector during the execution of the Fibre+ project.

Dissemination activities and exploitation of results
Several activities were carried out to disseminate and present the Fibre+ project and its results to the academic and industrial society. A large part of these activities have been carried on a “daily business basis”, by having had Fibre+ updated information on the agendas of many internal and external meetings of CEPI and FEFCO. This was done since the project was started with the aim of informing members of the Associations about their participation to this project and about its advancement. In particular Fibre+ was on the agendas of Associations’ staff meetings, at every level, and meetings of the different ad-hoc groups working in the frame of the activities of the Associations.
Dissemination activities were carried out also through presentations made at two congresses in Bologna (Italy) COST action FP 1003 October 2013 - and Sestri Levante (Italy) - ATICELCA International Congress on May 2015. ATICELCA is the Italian Technical Association of paper producers and suppliers of the paper industry. An article that was derived from this last presentation and its relevant manuscript was published in the Italian Sector magazine - Industria della Carta - issue 5/2015 October 2015.
The scientific coordinator, Prof. Stergios Adamopoulos from TEILAR has also published two articles in scientific sector peer reviewed journals, having as co-authors the colleagues Prof. Carsten Mai and Dr. Reza Hosseinpourpia from UGOE.
On 17 November 2015, the final Fibre+ conference was held and three presentations were made by the Project Coordinator (Dr. Eugenio Cavallini) and by the Scientific Coordinator (Prof. Stergios Adamopoulos). This dissemination event took place at the European Paper Week (EPW), Brussels, organised by CEPI. This annual event represents since many years an important meeting point for the paper value chain as this year’s infographic shows. The participation is high from the industry side (companies and associations) as well as from authorities and press and offers participants and speakers a big networking opportunity. The contents of the various sessions that make up the event can be spread to all the participants to EPW and not only to those attending the single sessions, thanks to the possibility to meet in the centre of the different meeting rooms and to the overall availability of documents and proceedings to all the participants. Fibre+ project has attracted the interest of some of the most important industries and institutes in Europe and worldwide. Registered participants were 78, including colleagues from the Fibre+ consortium that then had the chance to attend the last Fibre+ plenary meeting that was held at the end of the final conference. The Fibre+ event consisted of three presentations and a Question and Answers session at the end.

Program:
10.30 Opening of the event
Eugenio Cavallini Fibre+ Project Coordinator - Technical manager of CEPI
"Introduction to the fibre+ project" - Presentation from the Project Coordinator
10.45 Presentation of the project’s results
Prof. Stergios Adamopoulos, Fibre+ Scientific Coordinator – University of Larissa
“Morphology, properties and recyclability of modified fibres and papers with different chemicals at laboratory, pilot plant and industrial trials” -
11.15 Conclusions
Eugenio Cavallini Fibre+ Project Coordinator - Technical manager of CEPI
“Fibre+ project: conclusions and indication for the way forward
12.00 Closure of the event

All participants were provided with the program, the list of participants and the Fibre+ leaflet, 300 copies in English, which were distributed also to the other EPW participants. The leaflet is copied here below. This leaflet was also translated in other major languages of the consortium for dissemination in different European countries. During the Q&A session interesting aspects of the project were discussed, concerning both the final results and the potential developments of the project and the exploitation of the results.

A Wikipedia page on the project and its results was created to enable effective dissemination to a wider audience. After a consultation amongst the Project Coordinator and the Scientific Coordinator on the contents of the Wikipedia page and having considered the Wikipedia rules, it has been decided to publish the page as “Fiber modification”. Here below, a screenshot of the created Wikipedia page is copied.

To make possible to transfer the generated knowledge of the Fibre+ project among the SMEs of the corrugated packaging supply chain, practical training activities were organised during the life-time of the project of the staff of SME-AGs (FEFCO, CEPI) and the SMEs (AS RPV, NTL) of the project (internal training) as well as of the European SMEs of the corrugated packaging supply chain (external training) on the integrated results of the project and on the integration of Fibre+ technology in the paper manufacturing process.
Finally, educational curricula integrating the knowledge on Fibre+ technology were prepared for the European Universities.

List of Websites:
Project’s public website: http://www.fibreplus.org/

Logo: attached as ANNEX 3

List of partners: table attached as ANNEX 4

Related information

Result In Brief

Contact

Eugenio Cavallini, (Technical Manager)
Tel.: +393355697325
E-mail
Record Number: 186797 / Last updated on: 2016-07-12