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TAPPI's southeast Ambassador's program identifies knowledge that pulp mills need

By Colleen Walker

Earlier this year, TAPPI members and staff visited several pulp mills in the southeastern U.S., as part of the TAPPI Ambassador program. The objective was to meet with mill operational and administrative personnel to get detailed information on specific regional technical and training needs to help develop content for the PEERS 2015 Conference, to make it more appealing to mills. In addition, what was learned will also help improve competitiveness and drive future innovation in the industry.

“Of the many issues discussed,” noted Chris Verrill, Engineering Fellow with International Paper and 2015 TAPPI Engineering Division Chair and past Chair of the 2014 PEERS Conference, “the primary needs expressed by mills were in pulp yield, lime kilns and training young professionals.” Some of the topics mentioned most often were: lime kiln runnability, throughput, and energy efficiency; recausticizing efficiency and optimization; bleach cost optimization; best outage execution templates and outage execution roundtable; and recovery boiler fouling basics and sootblowing best practice.

Feedback fell into two main areas—technical needs and training needs, and are listed below:

Technology Needs

  • Higher yields when pulping without sacrificing fiber quality
  • Pulping catalysts that are alternatives to AQ
  • Pulp washing / new technology? How to best measure washing performance online?
  • Topics related to dissolving pulps
  • Fluff pulp properties and how to improve fiberization
  • Bleach cost optimization
  • Technologies and systems to help see change coming: are there affordable online measurements for pulp quality (freeness, strength, viscosity, etc.)?

Training Needs

  • Tutorial on chip quality/state of the art
  • Pulp yield and bleaching tutorials: “What is the best way to determine the highest yield across the pulping and bleaching stages?”

Technology Needs

  • Updates on domestic lignin removal process development
  • Market outlooks for lignin based products
  • Latest developments in switching from wood to forest residue, sludge and black liquor as feedstocks for biorefinery concepts

Technology Needs

  • Better methods to determine yield of usable fiber from mixed grade recovered paper

Technology Needs

  • Recovery boiler lower furnace metallurgy advancements: OEM offerings and any recent technical evaluations
  • Best outage execution templates; outage execution roundtable and related topics
  • What is a best practice in operator equipment care routes and documentation systems?
  • Capital projects/bottom line content and technologies

Technology Needs

  • Lime kiln runnability; getting the most out of heavily loaded lime kilns and managing lime kiln ringing; lime kiln throughput, lime quality and kiln energy efficiency and related topics
  • Recausticizing efficiency or optimization; causticizing efficiency/slaking/lime mud removal/white liquor quality and related topics
  • Automation of liquor cycle make up chemicals
  • Recovery boiler fouling basics and sootblowing best practice
  • Combustion of concentrated non-condensable gases in recovery boilers
  • Power boiler tuning for boiler MACT implementation

Training Needs

  • Tutorial around liquor cycle

Technology Needs

  • Nutrient management and activated sludge systems
  • CO2 permitting and regulation
  • Sale of renewable energy credits: What types are there? What are the markets?
  • Compostability
  • Research; Agenda 2020 roadmapping progress report
  • Operator training successes
  • 5S Successes—Implementing Lean Manufacturing
  • Where is the industry going in advanced controls?
  • What is the value of centerlining? What is the best sustainable system that is being used?

Training Needs

  • Waste water treatment tutorial
  • Education of young engineers; moving the young professional to the next level (book smart vs. street smart) and other topics

Technology Needs

  • Rolling stock safety / pedestrian safety

The team that completed the mill visits compiled the feedback and is now using that information to help build the technical program for the 2015 PEERS Conference to be held October 25-28, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. PEERS 2015 will offer a program, led by working professionals, that will address real on-the-job challenges.

There is still time to submit an abstract for a presentation, but hurry as the deadline is Thursday, March 26, 2015. Visit for more information on the conference, or view the Call for Papers ( to see more topics of interest.

TAPPI extends its sincere appreciation to the mills that agreed to take time from their busy schedules to provide substantive input on their challenging operational and workforce issues they are facing, and TAPPI members for devoting their time and energy to develop the PEERS program.

Colleen Walker is Project Manager and Technical Lead for TAPPI and can be contacted at: To find out more about PEERS at:

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