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 New technology for ultra-smooth polymer films
28.06.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Organische Elektronik, Elektronenstrahl- und Plasmatechnik FEP

nachricht Diamond watch components
18.06.2018 | Schweizerischer Nationalfonds SNF

All articles from Process Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Future electronic components to be printed like newspapers

A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.

The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A smart safe rechargeable zinc ion battery based on sol-gel transition electrolytes

20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Reversing cause and effect is no trouble for quantum computers

20.07.2018 | Information Technology

Princeton-UPenn research team finds physics treasure hidden in a wallpaper pattern

20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>