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Content archived on 2024-04-16

Upgrading straw into pulp, paper and polymeric


The objective of the project is the industrial utilization of straw for the production of high yield pulps, papers, polymer fibres, films, and composites. All these products will be made using alternative process technologies; environmental problems associated with the industrial use of straw will be tackled during the project. Information will be found upon which decisions to build full-scale straw processing plants can be made.
The project aims to widen the use of straw as a feedstock for the pulp, paper and polymer industries by using alternative novel technologies.

Several straw varieties have been tested for chemical composition and pulping potential, paper has been made from optimised extruded straw pulp, suitable steam exploded pulp has produced polymeric materials and straw pulping effluent has been decolourised by microbial and ultra filtration methods. Chemical analysis showed little difference between varieties, straw slicing has shown energy savings of 50%. Bivis pulps have been successfully substituted for hardwood fibres at up to 30% in packaging paper furnishes. STEX pulp shows good solubility in DMAC lithium chloride and MMNO solvents. T versicolor gave the best effluent decolourisation and the ultrafiltration plant has achieved 85% colour removal at 3 m{3}/h flow.
To achieve this objective the project will use the following approach.

Firstly, a range of straws will be grown, stored and tested. Various types of straw will be characterized to determine factors relating to straw quality. Following statistical analysis a model will be built to define optimum supply. A prototype of an energy efficient and safe straw bale breaking and slicing device will be produced. A straw fractionating device will also be designed.

Secondly, steam explosion pulping (STEX) will be optimized for production of high yield and high quality pulps for paper and for fibres, films, and composite products. Production of larger quantities of pulp will be performed to test paper making suitability in full scale batch tests. Upgrading of STEX pulp in a digester will be assessed followed by industrial scale paper machine trials.

Thirdly, BI-VIS straw pulping will be assesses.A preliminary paper machine trial with high yield unbleached bi-vis pulp will be applied to the design of a pilot plant to produce sufficient pulp for industrial scale paper machine trials on various grades of packaging paper and furnishes. Experimental pulping of straw from storage and fractionation trials will also be conducted.

Fourthly,polymers produced from the dissolution of steam exploded straw in new solvent systems will be tested for production of films and fibres. Casting and extrusion optimization will be carried out for the production of films and fibres from homopolymer or blend solutions. Blends and composites will be developed for rigid and thermoforming materials. Evaluations of the properties and applications of the fibres, films, and composites produced are to be carried out at pilot scale.

Lastly, laboratory trials will be commissioned in order to determine effectiveness of ultrafiltration for straw pulping effluents. An ultrafiltration pilot plant will be tested. Anaerobic treatment of effluents will be compared with ultrafiltration results. Means of removing colour from straw pulping effluents and to recover lignins will be investigated as well as possible industrial uses for concentrated lignin.

The project includes participants from agriculture (GIE Grainval is the research body of a group of 7 cooperatives in France), the paper industry, research institutes and universities. It will improve the communication between these different worlds and will provide information on which both ends, agriculture and the pulp industry, can assess the feasibility of developing a straw based cellulose chain. The specific relevance of the project lies in its concentration on two high-yield pulping processes (BIVIS and STEX) which are supposedly less dependent on economics of scale and environmentally cleaner, and could therefore be more easily implemented in the EC farming system than the chemical pulping processes currently in use.

Also the exploratory research for high value-added applications of straw cellulose could open up interesting new opportunities.


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Call for proposal

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St Regis Paper Company Ltd
EU contribution
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Sudbrook Mill
NP6 4XT Newport
United Kingdom

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Total cost
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Participants (10)