Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Breakthrough for a greener paper industry

01.07.2003


A new approach that makes paper from straw, which cuts production costs and is kinder to the planet, is one step closer to reality thanks to an investment award of £90,500 from NESTA (the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) – the organisation that nurtures UK creativity and innovation.



The innovation is the brainchild of a Surrey-based environmental company, BioRegional MiniMills Ltd. The driving force behind this company is a former nurse, Sue Riddlestone who became very active in the environmental field after starting a family. Following a stint of voluntary work for the eco-lobby group Greenpeace, she co-founded BioRegional as an environmental charity. It works in partnership with industry to develop sustainable production and lifestyles through practical projects. The MiniMills offshoot was established in 1997 to develop new, cleaner technology to make paper on a small scale. Sue is joined by a range of experts from the paper processing industry.

There are reported to be nearly 9,000 paper and board mills worldwide, and the demand for paper is growing at a rate of 3% per annum. Current mills are huge operations run by multi-national companies. However, MiniMills’ new process would allow more independent paper makers to compete with these large-scale processes. Their method would facilitate the use of a much greater variety of raw materials, including straw - four million tonnes of straw goes unused in the UK annually - and wood from sustainably-managed, smaller woodlands for use in papermaking. This would provide income generation for both farmers and foresters.


The new process also provides a more efficient and ecologically sound method for treating effluent, otherwise known as ‘black liquor’, from the pulp-making procedure. Current processes for effluent treatment are carried out at high temperatures which requires high levels of energy. The recovered product is very corrosive and precautions must be taken against the risk of explosion.

MiniMills’ method liberates organic matter present in the black liquor and recycles them as process fuel, as well as recovering sodium hydroxide for re-use in pulping. The reactions take place at relatively low temperatures.

Since 1997, pilot-scale laboratory trials have been carried out with support from six paper companies, two environmental charities, the Ministry for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) and the Department for Trade and Industry (DTI). Having reached the proof of concept stage, the next vital step for MiniMills is to build a £6m demonstration plant. NESTA’s support will go a long way in helping the organisation achieve this aim as well as enabling them to secure intellectual property rights (IPR) and provide legal and technical expertise.

Earlier this month, the team held open days at the black liquor treatment plant at Frogmore Mill in Hemel Hempstead. Excellent feedback was received from members of the paper industry who were invited to observe the plant in operation and discuss the potential for becoming partners to commercialise and promote the technology.

The latest trials show that the BioRegional MiniMills offer improved drainage, less fibre damage and faster pulping. The process uses technology tried and tested in other areas of manufacturing such as food and industrial waste processing, and therefore the technical risk is minimised.

Mark White, NESTA Invention and Innovation Director, said:

“We are delighted to be supporting the MiniMills process which has the potential to penetrate a large global market in the production of paper, as well as bring major environmental benefits in an area of historic difficulty for the industry. At NESTA we are always on the look-out for innovative ideas for new products and services, willing to back them at the early stage that other funders seem to find difficult to handle.”

Joseph Meaney | alfa
Further information:
http://www.nesta.org.uk

More articles from Process Engineering:

nachricht Quick, Precise, but not Cold
17.05.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Lasertechnik ILT

nachricht A laser for divers
03.05.2017 | Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V.

All articles from Process Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>