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Cost-efficient process development by VTT’s computational engineering: pulp and paper directly from laboratory phase to production


Simulation systems make paper production more efficient and efficiency means remarkable cost savings. Computational models, fast and inexpensive to use, reduce the number of unnecessary experiments and help to plan testing as well as implement process changes.

By improving the fidelity of its computational models, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has helped to reduce the number of expensive test phases needed in industrial plants. This reduction gives industry the chance to move directly from the laboratory phase to production. An excellent example of this can be found in the paper industry, where simulation models have allowed paper mills to avoid expensive test runs of their paper machines.

Paper manufacturers have also made use of computational models to boost production and renew processes. At the Stora Enso mill in Kaukopää, VTT’s simulation allowed the mill to optimise control parameters and thereby shorten its paper board machine's grade change time by 15%. Fibre and process chemistry models have proved especially beneficial in process development. Utilisation rates of paper machines have increased by several percentage points through a successful implementation of neutral conversion. An increase of one percentage point in the plant total efficiency equals an approximate increase of one million euro in a paper machine's production. Chemicals producers have exploited chemistry models to develop, for example, optimal dosing of bleaching chemicals.

Together with its customers, VTT carries out simulation research associated with paper production. In addition to research services, VTT sells simulation software licences to companies wishing to independently implement simulation-assisted process and automation planning, automation testing, process analyses and concept development work. VTT's portfolio of services also supports the development of new process concepts that conserve energy as well as material.

VTT has developed three simulation programs for the development of pulp and paper production processes. APROS is software developed to run dynamic simulations applicable on a factory-wide scale. It can be applied in the pulp and paper industry as well as to energy production. The software can be utilised in, among other areas, process and automation design, testing, process analyses, equipment planning, and training. BALAS is an application developed for balance simulation in the process industry, especially the paper industry. The application targets factory-wide process analyses, concept and process integration reviews where the objects to be reviewed include different connections between process units, process concepts and their impact on the whole process. The third application is ChemSheet, software developed for the calculation of dosing chemicals. It is the only application on the market that can take into account the acid content of a fibre, that is, the impact of the Donnan phenomenon on the solubility of chemicals and the pH value of process liquids. It can be used for the simulation of chemical reactions that occur in the fibre line as well as in paper machines.

Globally, VTT has unique know-how in combining expertise in fibre and paper technology with the management and dynamic control of the production process. This competence is the result of sustained research cooperation with machine manufacturers, the paper industry and other central actors in the field.

Specialists from different disciplines form the backbone of VTT's pulp and paper production process development work: modelling experts, software specialists, chemists and paper engineers. In addition to computational models, VTT has a unique paper production research environment that ranges from laboratories to the pilot stage.

Thanks to the institute’s specialised know-how and deep experience, many important international paper industry companies and chemicals suppliers have benefited from VTT's research and development services.

Further information:

Jussi Manninen, Technology Manager, tel. +358 20 722 2723

Timo Pekkarinen, Vice President, Business Solutions, tel. +358 20 722 3202