(737b) Environmental Life Cycle Assessment of Peracetic Acid Application in the Pulp and Paper Industry | AIChE

(737b) Environmental Life Cycle Assessment of Peracetic Acid Application in the Pulp and Paper Industry


Echeverria, D. - Presenter, North Carolina State University
Yao, Y., Yale University
Venditti, R., North Carolina State University
Jameel, H., North Carolina State University
Environmental Life Cycle Assessment of Peracetic Acid Application in the Pulp and Paper Industry

Darlene Echeverria, Yuan Yao, Richard Venditti, Hasan Jameel

Department of Forest Biomaterials, NC State University.

Raleigh, NC 27606, USA


The United States is one of the largest producers of paper and paper products in the world. In 2014, the global pulp and paper industry produced 406.5 million tonnes of paper and paperboard, in which 20% were produced in the United States (RISI, 2015). The large-scale production of pulp and paper has traditionally generated a significant amount of wastes and emissions, and now the industry is one of the most environmentally regulated sectors in the United States (Bussing-Burks). Many pulp and paper mills have responded by investing in new technologies and methodologies that maintain profitability while concurrently reducing wastes and pollutants (Smook, 2016). One of the major improvements is the development of new bleaching technology to address the environmental concerns over elemental chlorine and its derivatives that are traditionally used as bleaching agents. Two bleaching technologies have been developed, Elemental Chlorine-Free (ECF) and Total Chlorine-Free (TCF). In 2012, 93% of the worldwide chemical pulp were produced by ECF that utilizes chlorine dioxide as the main bleaching agent, and about 5% of them were produced by TCF that uses oxygen, ozone, hydrogen peroxide and peracetic acids (PAA) as bleaching agents (AET, 2012; Pia Jour, 2015). Compared to other agents, PAA does not produce toxic by-products and has high selectivity in removing lignin and maintaining cellulose intact. Although PAA has been considered as an environmentally benign bleaching agent, few studies have quantified the environmental benefits or total environmental impacts of PAA bleaching process.

In this work, a comparative cradle-to-gate Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is conducted to quantify the potential environmental benefits of PAA compared to traditional bleaching agents in the pulp and paper production. Different pathways of PAA production are included in this study to understand the variances led by different feedstocks. A techno-economic analysis is performed to define the economics of PAA application and integrated with LCA results to understand the trade-offs between environmental benefits and economic viability. Sensitivity analysis is used to test the robustness of the results and quantify the impacts of system variances and uncertainties on the comparative results of PAA and traditional bleaching agents. The results of this study would be beneficial to inform decision-making towards more sustainable PAA production and pulp bleaching. From an end-user perspective, quantitative understandings of potential environmental benefits brought by PAA could foster partnerships among PAA suppliers and the pulp and paper industry to develop more sustainable production and supply chains. In addition, the results of this work may shed light on the potential and practical applications for PAA bleaching in other industries for reducing their environmental impacts.


AET (Alliance for Environmental Technology) (2012). Trends in World Bleached Chemical Pulp Production: 1990-2012. Retrieved from: http://www.aet.org/science_of_ecf/eco_risk/2013_pulp.html

Bussing-Burks, M. The National Bureau of Economic Research. Retrieved from: http://www.nber.org/: http://www.nber.org/digest/feb03/w9125.html

Pia Jour, K. H. (2015). Life cycle assessment of ECF bleaching sequences with focus on carbon footprint. Sweden: TAPPI Journal.

RISI | Pulp and Paper Industry Intelligence (2015). Retrieved from: http://www.risiinfo.com/: http://www.risiinfo.com/press-release/global-production-of-paper-and-boa...

Smook, G. A. (2016). Handbook For Pulp & Paper Technologists. Peachtree Corners: TAPPI Press.