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    Description

    Pulp and paper manufacturing constitutes one of the largest industry segments in the United States in term of water and energy usage and total discharges to the environment. More than many other industries, however, this industry plays an important role in sustainable development because its chief raw material— wood fiber—is renewable. This industry provides an example of how a resource can be managed to provide a sustained supply to meet society’s current and future needs. The objective of this work is to present streamlined environmental life-cycle assessments (LCA) between chemical (kraft–sulfate), mechanical (or thermomechanical), and biopulping processes. This LCA would help us to evaluate the industry’s current experience and practices in terms of environmental stewardship, regulatory and nonregulatory forces, life cycles of its processes and products, and future developments. The pulping industry has been traditionally using mechanical or chemical pulping methods, or a combination of the two, to produce pulps of desired characteristics. Mechanical pulping accounts for about 25% of the wood pulp production in the world today. Mechanical pulping, with its high yield, is viewed as a way to extend the forest resources. However, mechanical pulping is electrical energy–intensive and yields paper with less strength compared to that produced by the chemical pulping process. These disadvantages limit the use of mechanical pulps in many grades of paper. Chemical pulping accounts for about 75% of the wood pulp production in the world. This process produces paper with very high strength. However, the process has the disadvantages of being capital-and energy-intensive, giving relatively low yields, producing troublesome waste products, and producing by-products that are of relatively low values.

    Publication Notes

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    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.

    Citation

    Das, Tapas K.; Houtman, Carl; 2004. Evaluating chemical-, mechanical-, and bio-pulping processes and their sustainability characterization using life cycle assessment. Environmental progress. Vol. 23, no. 4 (Dec. 2004): p. 347-357.

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    Keywords

    Pulping, sustainability, mechanical pulping process, wood-pulp industry, energy conservation, paper industry, wood-pulp, renewable natural resources, sulfate pulping process, environmental aspects, product life cycle, energy conservation, forest products, environmental impact analysis, sustainable forestry, sustainability, sulfate pulping, mechanical pulping, chemical pulping, biopulping, TRACI

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