Research and development
A passion for innovation
ANDRITZ PULP & PAPER’s continuous research and development activities focus on supporting customers to achieve sustainable production with higher capacities as well as higher energy efficiency and at the same time minimizing the consumption of energy, chemicals, and water. New technologies concentrate on the by-products of pulp production and on creating green energy.
R&D for biomass power boilers continues to focus on the combustion and emission behavior of different biomass feedstocks. The focus on developing low-effluent and chemical recovery systems for chemi-mechanical pulp mills continues.
To lower the environmental impact, ANDRITZ has been able to reduce the consumption of chemicals required for cooking and bleaching. Consumption of fresh water has also decreased.
Technology development in evaporation is focusing on producing highly efficient, low (or zero) effluent evaporation systems.
White liquor plant development is further reducing gaseous emissions and cleaning solid wastes to reduce toxicity.
Electricity generation in pulp mills is boosted with High Energy Recovery Boilers (HERB) that increase the amount of electricity generated from black liquor. Developments in mechanical pulping include new high-capacity and energy-efficient machines and systems.
For industrial grades of recycled fiber, development work is centered on the pulping process to reduce energy consumption. A compact partial deaeration system has been developed for inclusion within paper machine approach systems. One of the benefits of this development is lower power consumption.
ANDRITZ is developing technologies for ethanol production from non-food based raw materials such as wood and agricultural waste. Development of pressurized oxygen-blown gasifiers, which are used in liquid biofuel production, continues. A gasification process for biodiesel production is currently under development and the site selection process for the first production plant is ongoing.
The focus in service development is to continuously improve the efficiency of installed equipment and lower the operating costs. In support of this, sophisticated balance calculation tools, which model production costs, have been developed. Upgrade packages for specific equipment are being introduced to reduce energy consumption, maintenance costs and the consumption of consumables, and to increase reliability.
R&D activities in 2012
ANDRITZ PULP & PAPER is supplying the technology for pre-treatment of biomass for the “Liberty Project,” the first commercial cellulosic ethanol plant for second-generation biofuels being installed by POET-DSM in the USA. The plant is being designed to produce more than 75 million liters of cellulosic ethanol a year from corn harvesting waste. ANDRITZ is providing its two-stage steam explosion process which will help convert the biomass into low-cost sugar for the production of ethanol. At its R&D facilities in the USA and Europe, ANDRITZ has spent eight years working on processes for second-generation ethanol production. These processes use forest residuals and the parts of agricultural crops that are not used as food. Wood waste, for example, or plant remains from crop farming are suitable for ethanol production. The ANDRITZ development work is concentrating on chemical pre-treatment of the biomass and production of sugars to be fermented to make ethanol and butanol. Wood handling and processing play special roles in biomass pre-treatment. Any foreign matter adhering to the cellulose could interfere with the production process and must be removed. A particularly promising development here are “micro” wood chips, between four and six millimeters long, which are virtually free of foreign matter. These microchips could be used in the future for low-cost production of most types of biofuel.
The importance of biomass for the worldwide energy mix is growing significantly. In order to achieve legislated emission targets, coal-fired power stations are co-firing biomass pellets with coal. However, the use of untreated biomass is somewhat limited in the existing plants, without making costly modifications to storage, feed systems, and boiler firing. This is why ANDRITZ is developing technologies and processes to prepare the raw material better for power generation applications. One of the most promising processes is torrefaction – a thermal process to increase the energy density of biomass. This improves the fuel properties of the CO2-neutral biomass so that it can be co-fired, requiring less fossil fuel. By “roasting” in a low-oxygen environment at relatively low temperatures, the biomass attains properties similar to coal. The energy content of torrefied biomass is 20% higher than that of ordinary wood pellets.
ANDRITZ is currently testing this innovative process in two different demonstration plants. ANDRITZ SEPARATION has started up a pilot plant together with the local authority of the City of Frohnleiten, Austria. The plant is based on the ACB process (Accelerated Carbonized Biomass), newly developed by ANDRITZ. Woody biomass, like wood chips or sawmill chips, is compacted and torrefied at the premises of the Frohnleiten waste treatment plant. In the future, other low-cost biomass raw and waste materials can also be processed in these turnkey torrefaction plants (with an annual capacity of around 50,000 tonnes each) to become particularly energy-rich fuels. Another torrefaction plant in Sønder Stenderup, Denmark utilizes a biomass dryer, a vertical torrefaction reactor, and a pelleting unit to torrefy and densify biomass. The goal at this facility is to prove the concept for large-scale torrefaction and densification – up to 1,000 tonnes per hour.