Designing grinding tools to control and understand fibre release in groundwood pulping

  • Date:
  • Location: Häggsalen, Ångströmlaboratoriet, Lägerhyddsvägen 1, Uppsala
  • Doctoral student: Heldin, Magnus
  • About the dissertation
  • Organiser: Tillämpad materialvetenskap
  • Contact person: Heldin, Magnus
  • Disputation

This thesis shows that it is possible to design future tools that can help reducing the energy consumption in industrial pulping.

Mechanical pulping is a very energy demanding process in which only a fraction of the energy is used for the actual separation of wood fibres. The rest of the energy is lost, partly in damaging already separated fibres and partly as heat during viscoelastic deformation of the wood. Groundwood pulping is one of the major mechanical pulping processes. In this process, a piece of wood is pressed against a rotating grinding stone. The stone surface has traditionally been made of grinding particles fused to a vitrified matrix. Though the process is close to 200 years old, the detailed mechanisms of the interactions between the grinding particles and the wood surface are still not fully understood. The random nature of the grinding stones combined with the heterogeneous nature of wood creates a stochastic process that is difficult to study in detail. This work utilizes well-defined tools, that facilitate testing and analysis, to increase the understanding of the tool-wood-interaction. In-situ tomography experiments were performed with such well-defined tools, to study the deformations and strains induced in the wood as the tool asperities engage the wood surface. Numerical simulations were used to study the influence of asperity shape, and to show how the induced strains promote intercellular cracks and fibre separation. Several well-defined tool surfaces were designed and tested in a newly developed lab-scale grinding equipment, to study their performance in terms of energy consumption and the quality of the produced fibres. It was shown that the well-defined grinding surfaces, with asperities the same size as a fibre diameter, can be designed both to achieve drastically lower energy consumption compared with that of traditional stones and to produce long and undamaged fibres. This thesis shows that it is possible to design future tools that can help reducing the energy consumption in industrial pulping.