Strategies to Reduce Heat-induced Darkening for Enhanced Bleachability of Mechanical Pulps

Anette M. Karlsson, Cleveland State University
Magnus Paulsson
Per Engstrand
Erik Hedenstrom


Under mechanical pulping conditions, elevated temperature initiates reactions in the wood constituents resulting in the formation of coloured structures. In an attempt to reduce the formation of colour, a number of additives have been examined to assess their ability to inhibit heat-induced darkening of a Norway spruce (Picea abies) stone groundwood (SGW) pulp. SGW pulp was used as a model pulp with the purpose of imitating a thermomechanical pulp (TMP). The heat-treated SGW pulp, both with and without additives present, was subsequently bleached with 4.5% hydrogen peroxide at high pulp consistency and with varying alkali charges in order to examine the hydrogen peroxide bleachability of such pulps.Heat treatment at 170 degreesC resulted in a loss of brightness of about 4% ISO after heating for 60 seconds. The reduction in brightness could only partly be regained through high consistency hydrogen peroxide bleaching; the SGW pulp displayed a brightness of 83.7% ISO whereas the heat-treated SGW pulp reached a brightness of 80.4% ISO. Heat treatment with a low addition rate (1%) of alkaline hydrogen peroxide, sodium bisulfite or sodium sulfite, with a subsequent hydrogen peroxide bleaching stage, resulted in an improved bleached brightness of about 81.6% ISO, i.e. the loss of brightness due to heat was still approximately 2% ISO. Sodium borohydride (1%) did not suppress the thermal darkening but improved the bleached brightness by approximately 2% ISO compared to the heat-treated SGW pulp and resulted in a brightness of 82.6% ISO. Addition of a chelating agent (DTPA, 0.11 and 0.45%) and the radical scavengers phthalic hydrazide (1%) and 1-hexanol (1%) suppressed the heat-induced darkening somewhat but did not improve the hydrogen peroxide bleachability to any noticeable extent. Addition of citric acid (0.6%) did not suppress the thermal darkening and resulted in impaired bleachability.