Pulp and Paper Canada

For technology transfer, THE FUTURE IS NOW

October 1, 2000  By Pulp & Paper Canada

“The process has run hassle-free in both plants for 12 years. Being the Scrooge that I am, I wonder why everyone else hasn’t done it!” Bob Ryan, Vice-President and General Manager, BC, Weyerhaeuser, s…

“The process has run hassle-free in both plants for 12 years. Being the Scrooge that I am, I wonder why everyone else hasn’t done it!” Bob Ryan, Vice-President and General Manager, BC, Weyerhaeuser, said this about Papricycle, one of the many technologies developed by Paprican.

Research is not a charity. Companies who invest money in an industrial research consortium like Paprican expect to derive substantial tangible values from their investment. Knowledge generates value for our industry only when it is applied. It can be used to generate new business opportunities, improve productivity or product quality, reduce the consumption of resources and generation of waste streams, protect our workers, the public and the environment, and deal with customer concerns. For Ryan it was to reduce costs.


Paprican has been in business for 75 years and has generated in-depth knowledge, new test methods and equipment, new processes or process options. Some have faded into the background as new knowledge and procedures replace them; others are still an integral part of how we do things:

Canadian Standard Freeness, an early Paprican development, is used to control grinding, refining, beating and papermaking operations over the years. It is still used today.

Chemical pulping operations have been controlled using the H-factor and the kappa number, both developed at Paprican.

Papermaking changed dramatically in the 1970s with the introduction of a variety of twin-wire formers. Paprican’s contribution was the first successful roll former for printing papers, the Papriformer.

While these and many other Paprican developments have become “the way we do things” in our industry, it is difficult to calculate in retrospect the value they have brought to Paprican’s Member Companies.

In recent years, as profit margins have decreased, our industry has become far more concerned with “keeping score”. Is consortium research a good investment? The answer can be found by tracking the transfer of technology and expertise into our Member Companies and estimating the value they have generated. Numerous reviews carried out together with our Member Companies have consistently shown that the application of research results from Paprican have delivered generous returns. While there are many intangible benefits, there are usually enough tangible ones to provide a very convincing argument for the value of consortium research.

These surveys also showed that the potential value which could be derived from wider application of many of the technologies and expertise in our Member Companies is far greater that the value that has been derived so far. To develop broader awareness and to promote the wider use of Paprican’s “products”, we now publish a series of one-page bulletins describing the process technologies, sensors and instrumentation, expertise and services that are available, bringing value to our Member Companies. They provide an important catalogue of opportunities for all Paprican clientele.

Technologies have been developed throughout the manufacturing process to reduce costs, improve product quality and reduce emissions.

Papricycle has led to substantial reductions in NaOH consumption in bleaching operations. “It cost $20,000 to do the hook up, and the ROI could be measured in hours.”

Our adaptive controller has reduced chemical costs and improved effluents. “The first year we saved $100,0000 in lime mud addition with a single control loop. But more importantly, we now comply at least 99% of the time with environmental regulations in effluent pH compared to about 60% before.”

Patented ion exchange technologies, PDP and GAP, together with process simulation expertise can reduce chemical costs by facilitating system closure.

Thermal barrier coating on paper machine dryers eliminates dry paper edges, a quality and a productivity problem. “Before we applied the ceramic coating concept to our dryer cans we had been fighting the problem of sheet dry edges for years. Now dry edges are a problem of the past.”

New sensors, instrumentation and process control technology are helping to reduce production costs, and improve product quality and uniformity.

Our alkali sensor provides “extremely reliable and accurate” feedback on key parameters affecting pulping, bleaching and recovery.

The Fibre Quality Analyzer and confocal microscopy provide rapid insights into pulp quality. “Paprican’s fibre expertise has provided us with a sound basis for quality assurance.”

Knowing when to clean press felts and when to throw them out is critical for reducing clothing costs on paper machines. Paprican’s felt permeability tester has made it possible to assess the conditions of the felts while the machine is running.

In tissue manufacture, the size and uniformity of the tissue crepe affects tissue softness. Our crepe sensor measures these variables.

LoopMD, Paprican’s control loop monitoring software, scans control systems automatically to identify malfunctioning control loops and the cause of the malfunction including both poor controller tuning and potential hardware problems. It frees the process control engineer from the tedium of routinely checking each loop, and allows him to focus on those loops that need some attention. “With LoopMD we have eliminated 75% of our control loop problems. I would not be without it.”

Like control systems, the processes themselves often need to be re-tuned or optimized.

A recovery boiler is a very complex unit process. Paprican engineers have developed sensors as well as a methodology that enable them to adjust the air flow in recovery boilers under operating conditions to eliminate chimney effects. This has improved boiler throughput (5-20%), reduced downtime for washes (from 8-16 to 1-3 per year), and reduced emissions. “We noticed the benefits immediately. SO2 and TRS plummeted, steam drum level stabilized and the boiler required less attention. Since then we’ve ramped up production by 20% and reduced water wash frequency.”

Accumulation of stickies and pitch plagues both pulping and papermaking operations. They reduce operating efficiency, increase operating costs and can threaten customer relations. There is no simple solution, as these problems can be caused by a wide variety of process conditions. Paprican can help its Member Companies perform a systematic analysis of their operations, applying 29 years of accumulated experience in the field. The application of this expertise “…allowed us to resolve the issue and maintain our market position with this valued customer.”

Customer inquiries must be dealt with efficiently and definitively by our Member Companies. Paprican has provided help, often on the customer’s premises, to help our Member Companies deal with quality complaints. Paprican, through knowledge and experience, provides a valuable resource for our Member Companies. Few companies find it cost effective maintaining a cadre of in-house experts who can be called on to deal with all of the problems that can arise.

Runnability and dimensional stability “… is very helpful to us… and once saved an important order for one of our major customers”.

Our printing expertise helps papermakers understand the factors that affect print quality of their product, and helps them deal with customer inquiries.

Expertise that can help solve quality problems can also be applied to new product development. While Paprican does not develop new products for its Member Companies, it supports their development by providing sound fundamental knowledge about the factors that affect product quality. This helps the Member Company choose the most effective ways to create products that meet new performance criteria.

Paprican’s product design tools for coated papers helps papermakers design papermaking strategies for quality enhancement. “The methods developed by Paprican have provided us with new insights into our LWC product characteristics.”

Our containerboard expertise has helped Member Companies identify the causes of product quality problems and can considerably reduce the tim
e and money associated with mill and box plant trials.

Yellowing inhibition technology has been developed, to prevent wood-containing paper grades from yellowing. This technology is creating some exciting new product opportunities.

Our Member Companies rely on Paprican to provide state-of-the-art analytical and calibration services. Essentially all of the standard physical and chemical tests required for pulp and paper production are performed, as well as many non-standard tests designed to provide greater fundamental insights for product analysis and design. Paprican is actively developing new testing procedures, for example in the area of microscopy. Our researchers can also provide expertise for experimental design and analyze the results, helping our Member Company solve complex problems.

Pilot facilities are essential for the development work undertaken by Paprican and by its Member Companies. Our bleaching pilot plant and our new paper machine have recently started up, and a new mechanical pulping pilot plant is soon to be commissioned. We can produce chips from logs, pulp them through a variety of processes, screen and clean them and run them on the paper machine.

We support the work of our Member Companies through our experts, technology, and our pilot plants. The past 75 years have shown this success, and now our energies are well-focused to do so in the years ahead.

Ron Crotogino is Director of Marketing, Paprican, Pointe-Claire, QC.

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