Potential of Elephant Grass for Pulp Production

Fernando José Borges Gomes, Jorge Luiz Colodette, Auphélia Burnet, Larisse Aparecida Ribas Batalha, Bianca Moreira Barbosa

Abstract


Elephant grass (Pennisetum purpureum) (EG) is a fast-growing plant with high biomass productivity in the range of 30-45 bone dry t/ha/yr. This high productivity qualifies EG as a potential raw material for bleached pulp production. This study evaluated elephant grass as a raw material for paper pulp production. This was accomplished through determining its full chemical and morphological characterization, pulpability at kappa numbers 15 and 20 via the kraft and soda-AQ processes, and its pulp bleachability to 90% ISO brightness. The results were compared with those of a commercial hybrid eucalyptus wood clone (Eucalyptus urophylla x Eucalyptus grandis) (EUCA) that is widely planted in Brazil. Concerning its chemical composition, the elephant grass presented a high ash (60,100 mg/kg) and total extractives content (14.8%). However, the elephant grass showed good potential for pulp production. The kraft process was the ideal cooking process at kappa number 20, producing the highest screened yield (47.9%), bleachability (0.163 Δkappa/TAC), and good viscosity (812 dm3/kg). For EUCA, the ideal cooking process was the kraft process at kappa number 20, resulting in a screened yield of 52%, bleachability of 0.217 Δkappa/TAC, and final viscosity of 886 dm3/kg. This high productivity qualifies EG as a potential raw material for bleached pulp production.

Keywords


Pennisetum purpureum; Elephant grass; Eucalypt; Soda-AQ; Kraft; Pulp

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Welcome to BioResources! This online, peer-reviewed journal is devoted to the science and engineering of biomaterials and chemicals from lignocellulosic sources for new end uses and new capabilities. The editors of BioResources would be very happy to assist you during the process of submitting or reviewing articles. Please note that logging in is required in order to submit or review articles. Martin A. Hubbe, (919) 513-3022, hubbe@ncsu.edu; Lucian A. Lucia, (919) 515-7707, lucian.lucia@gmail.com URLs: bioresourcesjournal.com; http://ncsu.edu/bioresources ISSN: 1930-2126