Enzymatic improvement of the properties of recycled paper fibres

(V.A. Nierstrasz and M.M.C.G. Warmoeskerken)

There is a continuous demand to increase the percentage of recycled fibres in the recycled-paper process. The main obstacles are a loss of fibre properties, a reduced drainage rate on the paper machine and a high amount of fines. The markets as well as requirements for environmentally friendly production is forcing pulp and paper producers to continuously look for more selective processes. Enzyme technology seems to be the method of choice. The aim of this project is to improve the properties of recycled-paper fibres using enzymes. Properly applied, enzymes (and specifically cellulases) can enhance or restore paper strength, reduce beating times and increase inter-fibre bonding through fibrillation. In order to study the mechanism and the kinetics of the reaction and the main parameters that are affecting the cellulase performance a model substrate has been selected. In order to decide if the enzymatic treatment is effective or not the standard properties of fibres will be tested. A systematic analysis will determine which parameters are key in the papermaking process.