MEA/water/AQ-pulping of wheat straw

Sahab Hedjazi 1 , Othar Kordsachia 1 , Rudolf Patt 2 ,  and Andreas Kreipl 3
  • 1 vTI – Institute for Wood Technology and Wood Biology, Chemical Technology Section, Hamburg, Germany
  • 2 Department of Wood Technology, Chemical Technology Section, University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
  • 3 IP Bewertungs AG (IPB), Hamburg, Germany


Annual plant pulping is faced with serious challenges. Traditional pulping processes with bleaching in chlorine based sequences and without appropriate chemical recovery system cannot be tolerated anymore. Alternative pulping processes with non-conventional chemicals, such as organic solvents, e.g., monoethanolamine (MEA), might be suited for an environmentally sound process with a closed mill system. Thus, pulping of wheat straw with MEA as the main delignifying agent was investigated in comparison to soda and soda/AQ pulps as references. The main focus was placed on reduction of the cooking temperature in order to avoid heat-induced MEA degradation. The temperature was reduced stepwise from 165°C to 130°C. At 150°C, a sufficient delignification was achieved. MEA was partly substituted by water and the resulting decrease of the delignification rate could be compensated by addition of anthraquinone (AQ). After optimization of the process, a pulp with a kappa number of 17 was obtained at a total yield of 56% based on o.d. straw. This pulp was selected for bleaching. Both, O/Q/OP/DQ/P (“ECF light”) and O/Q/OP/ZQ/P (TCFZ) bleaching were applied. NaOH was substituted by MEA as alkali source in the oxygen delignification stage. Up to 50% delignification rate was achieved under these moderate conditions. In the ECF light bleaching sequence, a brightness of 80% ISO was reached at a kappa number level below 3. In TCFZ bleaching, an even somewhat higher brightness was achieved at a kappa number level below 1. A yield of fully bleached screened pulp of around 50% (based on o.d. straw) was obtained. The strength properties of the MEA pulp were improved after bleaching. ECF bleaching resulted in slightly better pulp strengths than the TCFZ alternative. MEA forms in combination with water and AQ a very selective pulping system providing effective delignification and maintaining extremely high yields. MEA/water/AQ pulping should be regarded as a serious, environmentally friendly alternative to soda or soda/AQ pulping to produce high-quality pulp from wheat straw.

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Holzforschung is an international scholarly journal that publishes cutting-edge research on the biology, chemistry, physics and technology of wood and wood components. High quality papers about biotechnology and tree genetics are also welcome. Rated year after year as one of the top scientific journals in the category of Pulp and Paper (ISI Journal Citation Index), Holzforschung represents innovative, high quality basic and applied research.