How can biobased dry strength chemistry support efficiency in paper industry?

Performance, cost-efficiency – and sustainability. The sustainability of chemical solutions is climbing on the list of demands from paper and board producers. Biobased alternatives to fossil-based chemistries are at the heart of the discussion, but there’s more to consider than the renewable raw material base when discussing sustainable solutions for the paper industry.

One aspect of sustainability that can sometimes get overlooked in today’s discussion is the impact that our papermaking chemicals and application expertise have on our customers’ operations,” highlights Peter Jelinek, Subject Matter Expert, Paper and Tissue Excellence at Kemira.

“We enable efficient and sustainable operations for our customers with our solutions, helping them to use less raw materials or reduce the water and energy consumption. These are important metrics for their production footprint. Dry strength chemistry is an excellent example here. The right choice in strength resin ensures that you meet the strength targets with your end-product. It can also bring a lot of additional benefits that impact your efficiency, profitability, and sustainability.”

Peter shared his insights into the topic of sustainable dry strength solutions for paper and board in a recent webinar together with other Kemira experts Jan-Luiken Hemmes, Sr. Manager, Strength, Business Development, and Jonas Konn, Principal Scientist, Fiber and Bioeconomy, R&D and Technology.

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Sustainable dry strength solutions

Watch the on-demand webinar to learn about new and developing sustainable technologies for improving strength in fiber-based packaging materials.

In the webinar, Peter introduced Kemira’s ECA (Engineered Cellulose Additive) technology for enhancing paper and board strength, particularly in packaging grades. The product is chemically derived from wood pulp.

“ECA is a cellulose derivative, so it’s biobased. It is a 90% dry solids product that is dissolved on site. The on-site slurrying further impacts the product’s sustainability as it significantly reduces the need for transport and the related CO2 emissions.”

These sustainability arguments for ECA are clear, but Peter points out the most important benefits for paper and board producers will come beyond the fact that the product is biobased and dissolved on site.

“ECA is a highly effective dry strength additive and a particularly great fit for mills where the traditional, synthetic polymer-based dry strength resins struggle to perform. This proven, strong binding ability is the key to ensuring performance and efficient papermaking that also promotes sustainability.”

He picked three ways in which this biobased dry strength chemistry helps ensure efficient operations and promotes sustainability for paper and board producers.

1. Make the most out of recycled raw materials

Peter highlights that ECA is not affected by high conductivity, calcium levels, or other contaminants in the papermaking system.

“This means that it overcomes many of the challenges that come from using recycled fiber or circulated water in a closed water loop. The operating conditions become more challenging as the amount of fresh water and virgin fiber decrease. Chemical solutions then become the key to ensuring efficient production.”

2. Optimize chemical consumption

When introducing ECA to a papermaking system, it provides an opportunity to optimize the overall usage of chemicals on the machine. Typically, the dry strength technology helps customers improve retention and sizing efficiency, which can significantly reduce the consumption of chemicals in the process.

“In a recent customer case, 1.5 pounds of ECA per ton of paper delivered the same or improved performance on the different sheet strength parameters than 2.5 pounds of acrylamide-based strength resin, which was previously used at the mill. And on top of that, the customer was able to cut back on foam control, retention aids, sizing, and steam. The biobased strength program brought significant efficiency gains and cost savings in addition to the sustainability benefits,” Peter says.

3. Ensure quality for sustainable packaging

“For our customers’ efficiency, it’s obviously paramount that the quality of the paper or board off the reel meets all the physical specifications without defects.”

For many, reaching the same strength specifications with less fiber is an important target, as the demand for lighter weight packaging materials increases in the sustainability-focused value chain.

“Lightweighting will be increasingly important in the future. The aim to reduce basis weight demands a lot from strength chemicals. ECA as a cellulose-based, proven technology increases strength as long as it is retained. This has enabled basis weight reduction for many of our customers,” Peter states.


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Dry strength additives

Broad portfolio of technologies to be used with virgin, mechanical, recycled or mixed fibers and for the production of various paper, board, and tissue grades.

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