Pulp and paper technology is a specialist field of chemical engineering which involves the study of the processes required for the conversion of raw materials such as wood into pulp and paper products. Paper engineering is a branch of engineering that deals with the usage of physical science (e.g. chemistry and physics) and life sciences (e.g. biology and biochemistry) in conjunction with mathematics as applied to the converting of raw materials into useful paper products and co-products. The field applies various principles in process engineering and unit operations to the manufacture of paper, chemicals, energy and related materials. The field encompasses the design and analysis of a wide variety of thermal, chemical and biochemical unit operations employed in the manufacture of pulp and paper and addresses the preparation of its raw materials from trees or other natural resources via a pulping process, chemical and mechanical pretreatment of these recovered biopolymer (e.g. principally, although not solely, cellulose-based) fibers in a fluid suspension, the high-speed forming and initial dewatering of a non-woven web, the development of bulk sheet properties via control of energy and mass transfer operations, as well as post-treatment of the sheet with coating, calendering, and other chemical and mechanical processes.
Inherently chemical engineering, paper science and engineering, chemical pulping processes, and paper manufacturing processes are interlinked and interdisciplinary in nature. We’ll present a practical way to integrate this dual undergraduate education utilizing inquiry-based pedagogy and including but not limited to combined unit operations in both curricular and undergraduate laboratory experiences, teamwork building skills, and classroom-based practicum.
Our discussion will center on chemical pulping processes which supply more than two-thirds of world’s wood pulp. The most widely used chemical pulping process in paper making is the kraft, or sulfite, process. Other chemical-pulping process (mainly using acid sulfite and soda) are sometimes combined with various chemical-recovery sub-processes. First used over a half-century ago, these processes now result in recovery of 90 percent of the inorganics which are used in pulping process. Nearly 100 percent of the dissolved organics are converted to energy.