Kappa Number Prediction of Acacia melanoxylon Unbleached Kraft Pulps using NIR-PLSR Models with a Narrow Interval of Variation

António J.A. Santos, Ofélia Anjos, Rogério Simões, José Rodrigues, Helena Pereira


A total of 120 Acacia melanoxylon R. Br. (Australian blackwood) stem discs, belonging to 20 trees from four sites in Portugal, were used in this study. The samples were kraft pulped under standard identical conditions targeted to a Kappa number of 15. A Near Infrared (NIR) partial least squares regression (PLSR) model was developed for the Kappa number prediction using 75 pulp samples with a narrow Kappa number variation range of 10 to 17. Very good correlations between NIR spectra of A. melanoxylon pulps and Kappa numbers were obtained. Besides the raw spectra, also pre-processed spectra with ten methods were used for PLS analysis (cross validation with 48 samples), and a test set validation was made with 27 samples. The first derivative spectra in the wavenumber range from 6110 to 5440 cm-1 yielded the best model with a root mean square error of prediction of 0.4 units of Kappa number, a coefficient of determination of 92.1%, and two PLS components, with the ratios of performance to deviation (RPD) of 3.6 and zero outliers. The obtained NIR-PLSR model for Kappa number determination is sufficiently accurate to be used in screening programs and in quality control.


Acacia melanoxylon; Kappa number; NIR; RPD

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