Nordic prize for weeding out rogue chemicals from pulp
Nordic scientists have won an international forest research award for discovering a bleach-hungry chemical that surfaces during pulp production.
Finnish scientists Johanna Buchert, Maija Tenkanen, and Tapani Vuorinen and Swedish scientist Anita Teleman were awarded the Marcus Wallenberg Prize for their efforts to identify and eliminate a hitherto unknown component in pulp – hexenuronic acid.
Using nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and enzyme technology, the scientists established that hexenuronic acid is created during the pulping process and reacts with a number of bleaching chemicals, increasing their consumption.
The team then developed a method for removing the hexenuronic acid prior to pulp bleaching, which reduced the quantity of bleach consumed and resulted in the pulp retaining more of its brightness.
The group’s investigations also cast new light on what goes on during the bleaching of pulp. The team discovered differences in brightness achieved with and without chlorine chemicals, factors restricting the bleachability of pulps, and the efficacy of various bleaching chemicals.
The Swedish King, Carl Gustaf XVI, will present the prize-winners with their award at a ceremony in Stockholm this autumn.