Using novel DNA methods to achieve higher process efficiency and performance, TAPPI Journal January 2023


Application: We have identified problem-causing bacteria in RCF processes and shown that they may deteriorate fiber strength properties. Analysis of the bacterial community in the process tells about process health and how much bandwidth there is for improvements.

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Author: Anu Jaakkola, Mark Nelson, Albert Allen, Markus Korhonen, Marko Kolari, and Jaakko Ekman
Using novel DNA methods to achieve higher process efficiency
ABSTRACT: Uncontrolled microbiological activity is a challenge for recycled fiber (RCF) mills as it can have negative effects on production and end-product quality. The microbes that exist in these systems have been largely unknown, and the strategies employed to control microbiology have been non-specific. Understanding the specific microbial groups present in RCF mills, their properties, and where they exist, as well as having the ability to accurately measure the true troublemakers, are key to targeted control of the bad actors. In this study, we present the results of a global survey of over 40 RCF paper machines. The same RCF-specific problem-causing bacterial groups were found on different continents, including large densities of newly identified bacteria in paper processes. Those can degrade cellulose and starch, produce acids and odorous substances, and have a significant impact on fiber strength and additive consumption. We also demonstrate how modern DNA tools can quantify the impact of biocidal countermeasures against the actual troublemakers, including bacteria found to degrade cellulose during RCF pulp storage, which may be linked to a negative impact on end-product strength. These novel DNA tools give producers updated biocide program key performance indicators (KPIs) and actionable information to more effectively design and adjust microbiological control to achieve higher process efficiency and performance.

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