2024 journal article

Enzyme-assisted dewatering and strength enhancement of cellulosic fibers for sustainable papermaking: A bench and pilot study


By: N. Barrios n, M. Smith n, R. Venditti n & L. Pal n

author keywords: Sustainability; Cellulose fibers; Dewatering and drying; Enzymatic treatments; Energy efficiency; Decarbonization; Paper; packaging and hygiene products
Source: Web Of Science
Added: January 29, 2024

Water removal during paper manufacturing is of primary importance to production rate and cost efficiency for the pulp and paper industry. It is crucial to develop methods to reduce energy consumption by increasing the percent solids in the paper web entering the dryers from the presses. This research aimed to develop a fundamental understanding of the effect of bio-chemo-mechanical pretreatments on a bleached softwood fiber matrix and evaluate the impact on the percent solids of the paper web after pressing. Experiments included enzymatic, refining, and cationic polymer pretreatments on the bleached softwood pulps, followed by laboratory papermaking and determining the equilibrium moisture content (EMC) after pressing and the pulp and paper properties. The combined effect of mild refining, controlled enzymatic pretreatments, and cationic strength aids proved to enhance the water removal during wet pressing (up to 35 % reduction) and increase paper strength (up to 60 % increase). The results of increased solids after pressing were used to calculate the potential reduction in drying energy during paper manufacturing. Energy savings of around 10 % for paper drying could be achieved through fiber matrix modification by bio-chemo-mechanical pretreatment. Enzymatic pretreatments have been conventionally applied before refining as an energy-saving method. However, this research shows that synergistic actions of enzymes added after refining modify the fibers and create the optimal conditions for enhancement in drainage, press dewatering, and paper properties.