Water chemistry challenges in pulping and papermaking – fundamentals and practical insights: Part 1: Water chemistry fundamentals and pH, TAPPI Journal June 2022

Application: By gaining comprehensive and fundamental understanding on how pH affects wet end chemistry, mills can be better prepared to address water challenges and obtain more efficient operation.

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Author: Przemyslaw Pruszynski; Lebo Xu; and Peter W. Hart
Water chemistry challenges in pulping and papermaking • fund
ABSTRACT: Water is an essential component of the papermaking process. Nevertheless, papermakers often overlook its importance compared to fibers and chemical additives. A better understanding of water properties and chemical interactions associated with water at the wet end leads to a sound foundation for high-quality paper production and smooth operation. Not all fresh water and process water is the same. Fresh water varies from mill to mill, primarily due to the location and availability of water sources. Some industrial trends, such as enhancing water conservation and production yield, gradually shift process water quality over time. The current work serves as a primer on water and water chemistry fundamentals to help the papermaker prepare for the future challenges of increased contamination of process water associated with reduced fresh water usage. This paper focuses on basic water chemistry definitions and discusses the impact of pH on wet-end operation. It is clear that pH is a fundamental factor that directly affects the process and impacts other factors relevant to the papermaking process. It is crucial to understand what pH represents, how it is measured, how to select the proper pH and carefully control it, and how to closely maintain the process at target setpoints. Understanding the sensitivity of operation to pH change will lead to an appropriate focus on these issues. In addition to basic theory, we also review onsite experience and practical mill cases. It is imperative to stress that, although critical, pH is not the only chemical parameter impacting papermaking operations. Other factors, such as ionic concentration measured by conductivity, surface, soluble charge, and hardness, are critical and will be discussed in Part II of this series. As pH is a primary and independent factor that impacts various forms of charge and conductivity, the authors decided to start the current series of papers by discussing pH.

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