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Hainan PM2 raises the bar for speed, water conservation

APP-China is a relative newcomer to the pulp and paper market. A subsidiary of Asia Pulp & Paper, which in turn is owned by the privately-held Sinar Mas Group of Indonesia, APP-China began building mills in China 20 years ago. It now has...


October 1, 2011
By Pulp & Paper Canada

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APP-China is a relative newcomer to the pulp and paper market. A subsidiary of Asia Pulp & Paper, which in turn is owned by the privately-held Sinar Mas Group of Indonesia, APP-China began building mills in China 20 years ago. It now has more than 20 pulp and paper mills, including the largest single line fine paper machine in the world (at Hainan Jinhai), the fastest coated fine paper machine in the world (Gold East Paper) and the largest pulp mill in China (at Hainan Jinhai). By its own calculation, APP-China’s parent company, Asia Pulp & Paper Group, is the third largest pulp and paper producer in the world. APP-China’s revenue in 2010 was US$5.8 billion. By the standards of the Chinese industry, it is a giant, setting an example with state-of-the-art equipment and world-class environmental performance.

In recent years, the company has pulled back the veil on its operations, and even had a group of North and South American journalists tour some of its mills and forestry operations in July.

 Pulp and Paper Canada was among this group, who were the first Western journalists to see the new PM 2 at Hainan Jinhai Pulp & Paper Industry Co. Ltd. Completed in May 2010, this Voith machine is the largest fine paper machine in the world.

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Big fish in a crowded pond

APP-China is one of a new breed of pulp and paper producers in China. “We have changed many, many things about the paper industry in China,” says Sophy Huang, PR director for APP-China. The company bought and built modern, efficient mills with up-to-date environmental controls, in contrast with China’s thousands of small, inefficient, outdated producers.

APP-China has also shown good corporate citizenship throught donations, encouraging volunteerism among employees, and raising the standard of living in communities in which it operates. At Gold East Paper, for example, the average salary is twice what the citizens of Zhenjiang can earn at other employers.

“Twenty years ago, you couldn’t find good coated fine paper in China. It used to cost twice as much as it does now,” says Huang. “And, you couldn’t get good quality tissue.”

At that time, the industry was populated with smaller paper producers, and had an abominable environmental record. APP-China entered the scene as the industry was beginning to clean up its act, and larger mills were starting to emerge.

China still has thousands of small mills, but in the past two years the government has been eliminating the so-called “backward” production facilities by enacting more stringent environmental laws and shutting down non-compliant facilities. “Backward” production capacity refers to outdated equipment which uses large amounts of energy to produce low value products. Many of those that fall into this category would be producing straw pulp.

Still, disparity in the industry continues. According to the China Paper Association, the production capacity of 3,600 small and medium Chinese paper companies is less than the output of China’s 100 largest paper companies.

APP-China’s parent company, Asia Pulp & Paper, has come under fire from Greenpeace and other environmental NGOs, but the Chinese firm insists it is operating legally, and is working toward a vertically-integrated business model that combines plantations, pulp, and paper, in a way that balances social, environmental, and economic goals.

While the plantation model is displeasing to some environmental groups, others are recognizing that the development of high-yield, planted forest is an effective way to meet fibre demand in countries without a large fibre basket, explains Dr. Wending Huang, deputy CEO of APP-China’s forestry operations.

Dr. Huang notes that in China, the plantation model spares the natural forest and discourages illegal logging by meeting the industry’s need for wood fibre in a productive way.

Mix in a little Canadian fibre

The leading example of APP-China’s principle of integrating forestry, pulp, and paper is Hainan Jinhai Pulp & Paper Co. Ltd. APP-China has a nursery and plantations of eucalyptus and acacia on Hainan Island, which sits off the southernmost tip of mainland China. Also on the island, the Hainan Jinhai pulp mill gets much of its fibre from the local plantations. The sulphate pulp mill, the largest in China at 1.2 million tonnes per year, has now been joined by a fine paper machine.

The Hainan Jinhai complex has a 420 -MW private coal-fired power station, wharfs, and an R&D centre, plus housing and facilities for about 4000 employees. Discharge of waste water and emissions from the pulp mill are lower than national standards of China, Europe, and North America.

The pulp produced at Hainan Jinhai is a mix of eucalyptus and acacia from plantations, plus imported softwood fibre. To feed the behemoth pulp line, about 2 million tonnes of chips are stored on site. Much of the wood comes from APP-China’s own plantations on the island, supplemented with imported fibre from Cambodia and Vietnam, plus imports of pulp from Canada and Brazil for the necessary long-fibre component.

Owing to APP-China’s close relationship to Paper Excellence, much of the softwood pulp comes from Canadian mills owned by Paper Excellence. The warehouse at Hainan Jinhai is filled with bales from Howe Sound, Meadow Lake, and Mackenzie.

The Hainan Jinhai complex employs about 6500 people: 1300 for a small tissue machine, 2500 for the pulp mill, 2700 for the paper mill.

The newest addition at Hainan Jinhai, PM2, is massive. The Voith paper machine is 428 m long; the building that houses it is 660 m. It is 11.6 m wide, producing paper that is 10.96 m wide.

PM2 has four coating stations, and 61 dryers (87 total dryer cylinders). The machine has a design speed of 2000 m/min. In just 30 minutes, it can produce a jumbo roll of paper, weighing 90 tonnes, with a diameter of 3.55 m.

Voith Paper had already manufactured three high-performance paper machines for APP-China and installed them at the company’s mill in Dagang. The machine design of the PM2 at Hainan is similar to that of PM3 in Dagang, one of the fastest fine paper machines in the world.

The tandem NipcoFlex press for Hainan PM2 has a design width of 11 m, a length of 20 m and 10.5-m height. This press section is the largest Voith Paper has ever built. It weighs approximately 500 tonnes.

Water matters

APP-China strives to minimize fresh water consumption and the use of fresh fibers in its papermaking process. The latter is achieved through an increase in coating application via pigments (mainly ground limestone). Hainan PM2 is equipped with three speedsizers, one for starch, two for pigment coating. Paper from PM2 ranges from 150 to 250 g/m2. It generally has about 55% fibre content.

Actual figures are not available, but Voith anticipated that the fresh water consumption of the PM2 production line would be about 6 liters per kilogram of paper produced. This is much less than the maximum allowable consumption of 10.5 L/kg prescribed by the Chinese government, and also less than APP-China’s company-wide average of 8.85 L/kg. According to Voith, comparable fine paper machines in Europe consume about 8 L/kg on average.

With the lower of fresh water consumption, waste water volume is also reduced. The water conditioning system at APP’s mill in Hainan has a capacity of 100,000 m³/day to serve the pulp and paper lines. After mechanical and biological treatment’ the wastewater is so pure that the State Environmental Protection Administration of China allows for it to be piped straight into the sea.

Siemens supplied all the drives and electrical equipment for the fine paper line at Hainan. That included 185 Sinamics drive systems with a total connected power output of more than 40 MW for PM2, as well as the drives for roll cutters, re-winders, and offline calenderers. The electrica
l equipment supplied by Siemens encompasses the entire medium-voltage distribution system for 35 kilovolts and 6 kilovolts as well as all motors and converters.

One unique aspect of Hainan PM2 is the CarboTec rolls from Voith Paper. CarboRun CS rolls are used for the center supported rolls (CSR) and have a positive influence on the fabric performance.

Voith CarboTec rolls are made of carbon fiber reinforced plastic. The benefits of carbon fiber material in this application are low weight, low energy consumption, and low vibration tendency, leading to high stability and no susceptibility to corrosion.

Compared to steel rolls, these rolls are 40% lighter, reducing loads on the framing, which in turn, has a positive effect on the vibration level.

So in fact, PM2’s massive size is not its only claim to fame. The jewel in APP-China’s crown is notable for its advanced technology, minimal environmental footprint, and tight integration of plantation, pulp and paper.


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