On Heat and Paper From Hot Pressing to Impulse Technology

University dissertation from Stockholm : Fiber- och polymerteknologi

Abstract: Impulse technology is a process in which water is removedfrom a wet paper web by the combined action of mechanicalpressure and intense heat. This results in increased dewateringrates, increased smoothness on the roll side of the sheet, andincreased density. Although the potential benefits of impulsepressing have been debated over the past thirty years, itsindustrial acceptance has been prevented by web delamination,which is defined as a reduction in the z-directional strengthof paper.This thesis deals with the mechanism of heat transfer withphase change during impulse pressing of wet paper. The resultsof four complementary experimental studies suggest that littleor no steam is formed in an impulse nip prior to the point ofmaximum applied load. As the nip is unloaded and the hydraulicpressure decreases, hot liquid water flashes to steam. Weadvance the argument that the force expressed upon flashing canbe used to displace liquid water, in a mechanism similar tothat originally proposed by Wahren. Additionally, modelexperiments performed in a novel experimental facility suggestthat the strength of flashing-assisted displacement dewateringcan be maximized by controlling the direction of steam venting.If this solution could be exploited in a commercially viableimpulse press, delamination would cease to be an issue ofconcern.The thesis includes a study of the web structure ofdelaminated paper. Here, we characterized delaminated paper bythe changes in transverse permeability and cross-sectionalsolidity profiles measured as a function of pressingtemperature. We found no evidence that wet pressing and impulsepressing induced stratification in non-delaminated sheets andconcluded that the parabolic solidity profiles observed weredue to capillary forces present during drying. Further, thepermeability of mechanically compressed never-dried samples wasfound to be essentially constant for pressing temperatureslower than the atmospheric boiling point of water and toincrease significantly at higher pressing temperatures. Wepropose this to be a result of damage to the cell wall materialdue to flashing of hot liquid water in the fiber walls andlumina.Finally, we present a method and an apparatus formeasurement of the thermal properties of water-saturated paperwebs at temperatures and pressures of interest for commercialhigh-intensity processes. After validation, the method wassuccessfully applied to measure the thermal conductivity,thermal diffusivity and volumetric heat capacity ofwater-saturated blotter paper as functions of temperature andsolids content. Here, we found that the thermal conductivityincreased with solids content in the range from 30%\ to 55%,which is in conflict with the commonly stated assumptions of adecreasing trend. We propose that this discrepancy could be dueto the thermal conductivity of air-free fibers wetted byunpressable water only, being significantly different from thatof dry cellulose.