Oct 31, 2019

Pulp and paper mills transforming to bioproduct mills

Today, the pulp and paper mill has become much more than what it used to be. In addition to the traditional end products ranging from pulp to paper, board and tissue, the modern mill has become a multi-layered process incorporating elements familiar from refineries, power plants and the like. By using recyclable wood, these bioproduct mills are helping industry take giant leaps in the direction of resource efficiency, carbon neutrality and sustainability as a whole.

New commercial products like biochemicals, biofuels, bioenergy, bio-textiles and a whole range of further refined bio-composites and new wood-based materials play a key role in developing a commercially viable range of materials that will help the world replace things like fossil fuels and microplastics. The pulp and paper industry is becoming a forerunner in battling climate change, showing us how an industry can adapt and transform to improve environmental performance and profitability at the same time.

Catering to an evolving industry

As times have changed, so have the traditional pulp and paper mills. Growth and fluctuation in demand and growing concerns related to environmental performance, energy efficiency and raw material efficiency have pushed the industry into a state of transformation and renewal. The modern bioproduct mill is much more than just a pulp and paper mill.

The rapid development of digital technologies continues to shape the industrial landscape. The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is helping improve business and industrial processes by providing new automation solutions for ever more efficient predictive maintenance and services as well as accurate and faster production, logistics and ordering processes. Machine intelligence and cloud-connectivity are having a positive effect on every aspect of the pulp and paper process and business.

Supporting sustainable business

Improving environmental performance is a key factor for securing the future of the industry. Strict regulations are driving the need for reduced emissions and decreased water and fossil-fuel consumption. The pulp and paper industry is also leading the way in new innovations aimed at replacing unsustainable plastics, microplastics, textile fabrics and fossil fuels for example. What used to be an offering of valve solutions for the production of pulp and paper now covers all of the needs for the manufacturing of these new emerging products and innovations.

As production volumes grow and the availability of natural resources is being stretched, getting more out of less is becoming a must. In the pulp and paper industry this does not only mean improving production efficiency, but also the smart utilization of process waste and side streams for the creation of new commercially viable bioproducts. The most modern mills are now considered multifaceted bioproduct mills producing a wide variety of new and innovative products from previously unutilized raw materials and process waste.

We are seeing green biofuels being refined from wood-based materials as well as the extraction of a range of biochemicals such as Crude Tall Oil and Turpentine. The recycling of odor gases back to process chemicals, and the practice of refining biogases form process waste is also already a reality at many mills. The next wave will bring fiber-based biocomposites and textiles as well a variety of lignin-based bioproducts to market.

Energy is still one of the biggest costs related to industrial production processes. The trend of creating bioenergy from process waste is helping the pulp and paper industry towards energy self-sufficiency and diminished energy costs. In addition to creating energy on-site for the running of a mill, this sustainable, green energy is often sold to the grid for additional profit. Also, by utilizing our valve technology to further optimize processes, the modern bioproduct mill can further improve energy efficiency and save money.

Branching out into the future

Neles has a long and rich history of valve innovations and industry-firsts specifically engineered for the pulp and paper industry. We have been at the forefront of development for over 60 years, and our efforts to elevate reinvigorate and renew the industry continue. We deliver our products worldwide and already offer expert services in more than 40 countries around the globe. Our industry-leading portfolio of valve products and smart, scaleable services are designed to cover the needs of the modern bioproduct mills of today and tomorrow.

The traditional pulp and paper industry is in a state of great change and transformation. This new and emerging wood-based bioproducts industry is placing new kinds of demands on producers in terms of process efficiency. A broad understanding of advanced automation and intelligent solutions is needed to achieve sustainable performance. The performance-elevating digitalization of the mill process is something we can achieve together. As a partner with the digital tools to go with industry-leading hardware and services, we want to be a part of each customer’s journey towards success.


Text by Ilpo Miettinen. For additional information on the topic, please contact ville.kahkonen@neles.com

This article has been up-dated in July 2020, due to company name change to Neles.

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