Kraft pulp viscosity as a predictor of paper strength: Its uses and abuses, TAPPI Journal October 2023


Application: This paper attempts to reconcile the disparaging inferences made with kraft softwoods and hard-woods with regard to intrinsic pulp viscosity (as measured by TAPPI Standard Test Method T 230) and pulp strength, specifically in regards to tensile and tear index.

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Author: Brian N. Brogdon and Lucian A. Lucia
Kraft pulp viscosity as a predictor of paper strength: Its u
ABSTRACT: For bleached kraft pulps, two factors govern paper strength: the individual fiber strength, and the bond strength that adheres the individual fibers together in the paper matrix. Inherent fiber strength is related to the length of the carbohydrate polymers, also known as the degree of polymerization (DP). Average DP (DP) is inferred by performing pulp viscosity measurements. Under certain circumstances during kraft pulping and bleaching, the average polymer lengths can be shortened, resulting in lower pulp viscosity, and may indicate fiber damage. Fiber damage typically manifests itself as a reduction in tear strength for well-bonded handsheets.This paper will review the literature on how pulp viscosity can predict paper/fiber strength and how it can be used as a diagnostic tool. It can be a means to monitor pulp quality during pulping and bleaching, as well as to alert when such operations approach a critical threshold. However, viscosity losses must be carefully and judiciously analyzed. Like most diagnostic tools, viscosity measurements can be misused and abused, which can lead to incorrect inferences about intrinsic fiber strength. This review will also cover these misuses. The overall goal is to provide the papermaker a better understanding of what pulp viscosity is, how it correlates to potential sheet strength, and what its limitations are. It will be illustrated that when pulp viscosity drops below a critical value, it will indicate an appreciable deterioration in the paper’s tear and tensile strength.

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