Project: Mini Mills to produce paper and packaging from local agricultural or forestry waste

The ultimate goal is to enable production of cellulose for paper; and perhaps also for textiles and cellophane packaging, from locally available agricultural residues and forestry materials; by completing the development of new, smaller scale gasification technology which recovers energy and chemicals for re-use in the pulping process from the black liquor co-product which all pulp mills produce. _x000D__x000D_The goal of this project is to build upon previous research and development carried out by BRMM and use BRMM's existing ten per cent scale operational black liquor gasification pilot plant in the UK and GEA-Niro's pilot plant in Denmark to trial a new innovation of spray drying black liquor and feeding it dry to the gasifier to overcome process issues related to feeding the black liquor material in a wet state. _x000D__x000D_Pulp mill waste, known as black liquor, is hazardous and difficult to treat. The best available technology, the Tomlinson boiler, is only cost effective on a large scale of circa 400,000 tonnes of pulp production per annum (TPA) which dictates the scale of modern pulp mills. _x000D__x000D_Agricultural materials are bulky and so best processed locally to avoid high transport costs and environmental burdens. In addition, forestry residues are available in many regions, but usually not in the quantity required to supply a typical pulp mill, that is, two million tonnes of wood every year. Forestry residues are often therefore transported long distances for processing at large pulp mills. In the UK, 800,000 tonnes per annum of forestry residues are transported annually, adding to EU transport CO2 emissions, when they could be processed locally._x000D__x000D_World demand for paper continues to rise, particularly in rapidly developing countries. Cellulose biomass is a renewable material which can be produced in a sustainable manner. In the EU and globally, there is increasing interest in bio-materials in order to diversify the raw material base, create more independence from the price of crude oil and improve the CO2 balance. Straw and forestry residues can be used to produce not only paper, but also provide an alternative to fossil oil based plastic packaging and textiles. These cellulosic biomass materials can also be used to produce renewable energy and this is putting increasing pressure on the biomass resource in the EU. It is clear that we need to make efficient use of our biomass materials because in our low carbon future society we will have to rely on biomass to meet our needs to a greater extent than we do now._x000D__x000D_BioRegional MiniMills Ltd (BRMM) have been developing new technology to allow the processing of smaller, locally available quantities of cellulose materials, that is around 30,000 tonnes of production per annum. BRMM has developed a fluidised bed gasification process, which has been designed to be able to treat black liquor waste at less than a tenth of the scale of the typical pulp mill, recovering energy and chemicals for re-use in the process. BRMM have built a €600,000, ten per cent scale, pilot plant at a paper mill site in Manchester, UK and have demonstrated that the process can recover energy and chemicals in line with the theoretical models. BRMM have been able to operate the process continuously with dilute black liquor and will be working in this project to trial new innovations which could bring the technology to market._x000D__x000D_There are three key market areas. For existing small pulp mills in the EU and globally, COly in Asia, BRMM's technology could be "bolted on" to the end of pipe to reduce waste, energy and chemical costs and CO2 emissions. Secondly a new market could be developed where national scale mills P with agricultural processors or saw mill owners to produce cellulose pulp locally. Finally, the process could allow incremental capacity at existing large pulp mills who could increase pulping capacity but who are limited by the capacity of their recovery boiler. There would be a €410 million annual global market for such technology and, once developed, application of this technology would significantly reduce environmental impacts globally._x000D__x000D_BioRegional MiniMills (UK) Ltd is a research SME which has been developing the MiniMill technology for over ten years and is the lead P in the project consortium. The Company has grown out of the work of BioRegional Development Group, an award winning social enterprise which has been developing solutions for sustainability over 15 years, who set up the company with the involvement and engagement of experienced and innovative leaders from the paper industry. GEA Niro is an equipment supplier who specialise in the design and supply of spray dryers, fluid bed dryers, environmental engineering and waste management. They will bring their expertise to processing this difficult to handle material using their spray drier technology._x000D_

Acronym Mini Mills (Reference Number: 5754)
Duration 01/11/2010 - 30/04/2012
Project Topic Enable production of cellulose for paper and packaging on a regional scale from bulky local agricultural and forestry materials by perfecting a new gasification process to recover energy and chemicals from black liquor, the waste co-product, operating at a tenth of the scale of modern pulp mills.
Project Results
(after finalisation)
Product may be spray dried.
Network Eurostars
Call Eurostars Cut-Off 4

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
2 BioRegional MiniMills (UK) Ltd Coordinator United Kingdom
2 GEA Process Engineering A/S Partner Denmark