Researchers join forces with the forest industry aiming for emission free pulp
What if the forest industry could significantly reduce biomass burning and increase the product yield of wood material used for pulp from approximately 50% to around 70%. That is the goal that professor Chunlin Xu and his team at Åbo Akademi University, and several other project partners are aiming for with the Emission free pulp programme.
The forest industry, several technology companies and research organizations have set out to revolutionize the traditional pulp manufacturing processes. The research programme Emission Free Pulping intends to find ways to enhance the efficiency of wood usage and conversion to products, achieve emission free pulping; especially carbon dioxide emissions, and significantly reduce water usage in the processes.
At Åbo Akademi University, professor Chunlin Xu and his research team will focus on developing a wood microanalysis toolbox. This toolbox will illustrate the chemistry of dissolution and cell wall components interaction prior to any chemical changes caused by secondary fibre processing, such as cooking and bleaching, offering real-time observation of the dissolution process. This will allow users to evaluate the dissolution mechanisms and kinetics in bulk and spatially. Secondly, the team will investigate the role of oxygen on impacting hemicellulose and lignin under different treatments, also on a large scale.
– Hemicelluloses, and in particular lignin, are reactive and their chemistries are variable and complicated. Therefore, it’s a challenge to understand the fibre liberation mechanism and reaction kinetics under different treatment conditions, says senior lecturer Jan Gustafsson, co-leader of the project at Åbo Akademi University.
– Our research outcomes will contribute to understanding of the role of oxygen in impacting chemistry for the process when producing high yield and high-quality fibres. There’s expertise and infrastructure for biomass characterization within our team, and we will also provide support to other tasks, says professor Chunlin Xu, project leader at Åbo Akademi University.
Thanks to strong support from the forest industry and public funding, several research organizations are establishing a program with full-time researchers. The Emission Free Pulping-programme is coordinated by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and RISE Research Institutes of Sweden and is projected to have a budget of around 15 million euros over the next five years. The company parties in the program are ANDRITZ, Arauco, Metsä Group, Stora Enso and Valmet. The academic consortium includes Åbo Akademi University, Aalto University, University of Helsinki, LUT University, University of Oulu, Chalmers University of Technology, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Mid Sweden University.
Chunlin Xu, Professor, Laboratory of Natural Materials Technology, Åbo Akademi University
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