Pulp and Paper Canada

Products Test & Measurement
NIR technology can now measure Kappa number of kraft pulp

November 30, 2016  By Cindy Macdonald

FPInnovations, in partnership with FITNIR Analyzers Inc., has announced the successful commercialization of an innovative new product using near infrared technology (NIR) to quickly and efficiently analyze the kappa number of kraft pulp.

The two organizations say this cost-effective approach could save mills up to $150,000 in chemical costs.

The unique technology determines kappa number in less than four minutes and eliminates the need for all associated chemicals. The kappa analyzer also does not rely on other parameters for measurement (such as sample weight) thereby reducing measurement error.


While NIR technology has been used in many industries with applications from pharmaceutics to food quality control, FPInnovations developed specialized expertise to apply this technology to the pulp and paper industry. Easy and quick kappa number measurement allows mills to monitor and control pulp production, from the beginning of the process to the final product. Quicker adjustments improve mill efficiency, while reductions in chemical consumption lead to significant cost savings.

“This is a great example of how research and development leads to innovation and commercially viable products that benefit industry,” stated Pierre Lapointe, president and CEO of FPInnovations. “The partnering of former FPInnovations researcher Thanh Trung, now FITNIR’s vice-president of technology, facilitated the commercialization of this technology and is a demonstration of the innovation ecosystem at its best.”

FITNIR Kappa is the third of three commercial products offered by FITNIR. The other two products, FITNIR Online and FITNIR Benchtop, also developed in conjunction with FPInnovations, provide fast, accurate and true measurements of a complete suite of key pulp liquor properties for recovery, recaust, digester, and chlorine dioxide generator applications. They are being used in mills across North America, Indonesia and Scandinavia.

“We pride ourselves on listening to the needs of the market and responding appropriately,” said FITNIR Analyzers’ president, Tom Sands. “Mills were wanting another means for reducing variability and standardizing kappa measurements across sites and now we are able to offer FITNIR Kappa. The growth of our NIR product suite and applications is satisfying as we continue to contribute to the strength of the pulp and paper industry.”

NIR technology uses a broad spectrum of infrared light to illuminate a pulp sample. The resulting unique spectral frequencies are then recorded by the spectrometer and computer. A proprietary algorithm, developed by FPInnovations’ researchers and further fine-tuned by FITNIR, analyzes and determines the lignin content of the sample to ascertain the kappa number.

FPInnovations is a not-for-profit organization that specializes in the creation of scientific solutions in support of the Canadian forest sector’s global competitiveness.

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