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Cellulose and Paper

Our research encourages the use of cellulose and paper, sustainable, renewable and recyclable materials. We do it by improving and increasing their properties, the sustainability of their production and their applications. Within a circular economy, we promote the use of lignocellulose as part of biorefineries.

Grupo de investigación dependiente del

Forest Research Center (CIFOR). Forest Products Department.

​Our research promotes the use of cellulose and paper, natural, renewable and recyclabe materials as opposed to other non-sustainable materials.

Thus we contribute to the development of an important industrial sector in our country. Spain produces around 8 million tons of pulp and paper annually, being the sixth largest producer in the EU. The pulp, paper and cardboard value chain represents 4.5% of GDP and accounts for 18.5% of industrial employment. We work with companies in the sector to improve the performance of paper and cardboard, thus achieving a greater presence of a sustainable product (natural, recyclabel and renewable), a requirement highly demanded by today’s society.

We investigate promoting sustainability in manufacturing processes (reduction of pollution, lower energy consumption, better use of raw materials). We study the development of paper products with new functionalities that allow to extend their uses (for example, replacing plastic materials), the improvement of their properties and their recyclability. We work on new biorefinery strategies for the production of biofuels and biomaterials from lignocellulose. We develop and characterize nanocelluloses of bacterial and plant origin, as well as the safety of paper and cardboard intended for food contact.

​Investigation

In its more than 50 years of existence, the Cellulose and Paper laboratory has developed research and technological development projects that cover all the processes involved in obtaining pulp and paper/cardboard. We are capable to characterize from the raw material to the final product, understanding the cellulose and paper industry in a global way. As part of the Forest Research Center (CIFOR), we try to enhance the value of the forest-industry chain by promoting the use of sustainable, renewable and recyclable materials.

Along with research projects financed with public funds, we work with the pulp and paper industry and related sectors, carrying out tests, technical studies, scientific and technical advice on cellulose processes and products, and technological development and innovation projects.

Our main lines of work in recent years are:

- Improvement of Paper Products

We work with the main paper products, trying to improve their properties to make them more competitive and increase their presence in the market, diversifying their applications.

We have achieved improvements in the mechanical resistance of packaging papers. We have models that predict the behavior of corrugated cardboard packaging as a function of environmental conditions of transport and its component papers. Since 2018, we have been working on incorporating biopolymers obtained from residual liquors from the pretreatment of lignocellulosic waste into packaging paper, obtaining great improvements in resistance to compression while maintaining the rest of the paper´s properties. In the area of food contact papers, we seek to reduce and/or eliminate plastic materials as barriers in paper products, developing coatings to generate barriers to water, grease and gases from different biopolymers obtained by the group: nanocellulose (vegetable and bacterial), lignin-carbohydrate complexes and hemicellulose. We are also evaluating the suitability for food contact using methodologies in continuous development.

Within printing papers we have developed a methodology based on infrared spectroscopy (FTIR-ATR) to determine the distribution of ink on paper and the identification of the properties of the paper that affect the printing quality on newsprint, high-end coated papers and corrugated cardboard face papers. We are working to find a relationship between the indexes developed to evaluate printing quality and consumer opinion, with the aim of achieving more attractive products for the consumer. We have developed protocols for obtaining and applying nanocellulose of bacterial origin for its use in the conservation of historical heritage on paper, working in collaboration with the National Library of Spain. We are currently working on the optimization of bacterial nanocellulose for other uses (textile, biomedical, packaging) through its functionalization.

- Sustainable Pulp and Paper Production

Pulp and paper production is a circular (by recycling paper) bioindustry (by using a renewable raw material) that performs a cycle of sustainable use of the raw material. In the group, work has been carried out on the study of alternative raw materials for the production of cellulose pulp (kenaf, cardoon), on the "clean" production of cellulose pulps through the use of microorganisms (biopulping), enzymatic bleaching (biobleaching) and on the reduction of the environmental impact of recycling paper and cardboard, improving in turn recycled paper products and increasing their useful life.

The cellulose pulp factories are currently located within the lignocellulosic biorefinery scheme, where we are currently working on the fractionation and conversion of cellulose, lignin and hemicellulose to produce fuels, energy and intermediate and final chemicals. For this, we apply the processes developed by the paper industry according to the biorefinery concept.

​ On the other hand, and in collaboration with other research centers, we work on the use of microorganisms and enzymes resistant to inhibition in the enzymatic saccharification and fermentation stages.

Miembros

Coordinador de Grupo

Service to companies 

The Cellulose and Paper laboratory produces technical reports on demand, in different areas related to the pulp and paper sector. We mainly issue reports on: 

  • Characterization of lignocellulose as raw material. 
  • Production and characterization of cellulose pulps. ,
  • Bleaching and refining of cellulose pulps (obtaining and characterization). 
  • Recycling and deinking of paper and cardboard. 
  • Preparation of test and characterization sheets. 
  • Physico-mechanical tests of paper and cardboard, which include: 
    • Basic tests 
    • Structural properties 
    • Resistance tests 
    • Optical properties 
    • Surface properties 
    • Characterization of water absorption 
    • Printability tests 
    • Chemical determinations 
    • Tests on small packages 
  • Microscopic determinations (cellulose pulp and paper). 
  • Testing of non-fibrous paper components. Our most common tests are priced in the BOE (see attached document). For any questions or clarification do not hesitate to contact us.

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