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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Applications of spectroscopy and chemometrics in the pulp and paper industry Christy, Ashton


The pulp and paper industry stands to benefit immensely from the development of automated process control technologies that provide real-time feedback about the quality of in-process product. Current methods are destructive and labor-intensive wet-chemical assays, which cannot be implemented in an on-line setting. Rapid on-line alternatives to these methods hold great promise for improving efficiency and reducing costs, as well as providing the opportunity to make product quality guarantees based on data collected from in-process samples. This thesis presents the progress made on the development of two such automated methods. The first, principal method couples Raman spectroscopy with chemometric analysis to model and predict value-critical properties of pulp products, with a focus on strength properties. The second method implements machine vision in the detection of contaminants in in-process pulp, the presence of which have a deleterious effect on product strength - and therefore value. In both cases, we have taken these techniques from academic proofs-of-concept to industrial trials, one in a pilot plant, and the other in a pulp mill. This is a significant milestone in any academic-industrial collaboration. The first two chapters provide overviews of the nature of pulp and the current state of analytics in the industry, followed by a theoretical discussion of the methods used in this project. Following this are three chapters documenting the progress made towards the development of the Raman probe system, and a chapter presenting machine vision system, used to detect pulp contaminants. Finally, there is a discussion of some of the ongoing challenges, as well as future steps that will be undertaken to bring these technologies to full-scale on-line implementation in a working pulp mill.

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