Lab Canada

Water usage technology for pulp mills being developed by Alberta Research Council

Edmonton, AB — January 30, 2003 — Alberta Research Council (ARC) has joined forces with Varian, Inc. to commercialize new technology to improve water usage in the pulp and paper manufacturing process.

ARC will manufacture and market the thermal colloid analyser, a combination of ARC-developed software and analysis tools and UV-Vis spectrophotometer hardware supplied by Varian as a tool to help pulp mill operators better manage their water usage. Specifically, the technology will enable mill operators to improve measurement and control of the stability, concentration and composition of resin byproducts (or pitch) in papermaking process streams.

“We’re excited to bring this technology to the marketplace, as we believe it will help mills significantly lower water usage through better management of the contaminants that foul machinery, ” says Ted Garver, manager of ARC’s Aquantix Group. “This contamination and the resulting loss of production has been a longstanding problem in the industry. Our breakthrough has been to recognize and characterize the relationship between particle stickiness and the thermal response of light scattering of the pitch particles. This advance allows us to engineer better tools to measure and control particle stability in papermaking process streams.

“Currently, mills perform this control measure manually in a lab. Using our technology, these tests can be performed faster, cheaper and more accurately,” says Garver. “We estimate cost savings for a mill to be 50 percent of their present costs, or approximately $250,000 per year.”

Two patent applications have been awarded to ARC in Canada, the US and worldwide. The same technology can also be applied to manufacturing processes in the oil and gas, cosmetics, agriculture and food processing industries.

The Aquantix Group at ARC provides measurement and control solutions for high-value pulp and paper process water problems to improve processing efficiency, reduce costs and minimize environmental effects. Aquantix instruments are used to characterize dissolved and colloidal substances to provide control of the sources and effects of water contamination to improve productivity and quality.