Improved energy efficiency in double disc chip refining

Sammanfattning: The electrical energy consumption in thermomechanical pulping (TMP) is very high, in the range of 2 – 3 MWh/adt depending on process solution and on the product quality specifications for the paper product. Both pulpwood and energy prices have increased rapidly for some time. Due to this, the main focus of the research and development is on ways to reduce the electrical energy consumption in wood chip refining. As a step towards a more energy and cost‐ effective refining process, Holmen Paper AB has invested in a new mechanical pulping process at its Braviken mill. In this case the primary refining stage consists of high consistency (HC) double disc refiners ‐RGP68DD (machines with two counter rotating discs).Earlier studies on the refining conditions, such as intensity and temperature, have indicated that it should be possible to improve the energy efficiency in double disc refining while maintaining the functional pulp properties such as tensile index.The main goal of this project was to improve the energy efficiency in double disc chip refining with 150 kWh/adt to corresponding pulp properties as measured on pulp samples after refiner. In order to further improve the basic understanding of what happens to the wood fibre material when changing the process conditions, the morphological and ultrastructural changes of fibres were also studied. This part of the research work was performed in cooperation with the research program; Collaborative Research on the Ultrastructure of Wood Fibres (CRUW).This licentiate project is a part of a large development project where different techniques to improve the energy efficiency has been evaluated by means of mill scale trials at the Holmen Paper Braviken Mill. The high consistency double disc chip refining part of the project was financed by The Swedish Knowledge Foundation, Metso Paper and Holmen Paper, in cooperation with FSCN (Fiber Science & Communication Network) at Mid Sweden University.The trials were made on one of the TMP lines at the Holmen Paper Braviken mill with Norway spruce as raw material. The influence of increased specific   refining energy on pulp properties were studied at different refining temperatures, refining intensity, pulp consistency and production rate. Results from these trials were later validated by means of long term trials. Intensity models and simulations for intensity changes by new segment design were made by Juha‐Pekka Huhtanen from Tampere University of Technology, Finland.The results show that the specific energy consumption to same tensile index can be improved by means of increasing the refining pressure/temperature. The energy efficiency was improved by 80  ‐150 kWh/adt depending on load and the inlet‐and housing pressure. The largest relative specific energy efficiency improvement was reached at low specific energy consumption levels.Similar fibre surface ultrastructure characteristics are gained by pulps with high pressure/temperature and low specific energy consumption compared to low pressure/temperature and high specific energy consumption pulps.High pressure/temperature and high specific energy consumption resulted in significantly increase in the delamination/internal fibrillation of pulp fibres. The surface ultrastructure of these fibres exhibited exposed S2 layer with long ribbontype fibrillation compared to pulps produced with lower temperature and lower specific energy consumption. When the refiner was operated at high pressure, the tensile index was preserved over the whole plate life. The specific light scattering coefficient increased with increasing pressure/temperature. A reason for this could be increased intensity caused by decreased plate gap. Increased intensity by means of refiner segment design changes resulted in large specific light scattering coefficient increase at similar tensile index, lower shives content, lower average fibre length and lower CSF at same specific energy consumption. The fresh steam consumption was reduced by the increased refiner ressure/temperature.