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Project objectives:

The project addresses air pollution problem, i.e. VOC emissions and odour problem from the mechanical and semi-chemical pulping processes. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are known to contribute to the greenhouse effect, ozone formation, toxicity and odour problems. The problem is increasingly becoming recognised in the legislation of many European countries.

The aim of the project is to minimise emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the waste water treatment in mechanical and semi-chemical pulping and to develop a viable VOC and odour abatement system based either on single cleaning technique (incineration, biofiltration and UV-filtration) or a combination of techniques. The technology will be designed to work operate in the most economic way. The project is a continuation for the first Life VOCless Pulping -project in 2006-2009 (LIFE06 ENV/FIN/000201) which focused on reducing VOC emissions from mechanical pulping production. The project was awarded the ”Best LIFE projects 2009” plaque in Brussels along 18 other projects.

During the first VOCless Pulping -project it was observed in tentative investigations that waste waters of pulp mills contain nearly same amount of VOC compounds than what is emitted into atmosphere directly from pulping processes. Due to this it is important to study aerobic and anaerobic waste water purification processes (aerobic and anaerobic) of mechanical pulping mills in respect to VOC load into the nature. In this project the VOC balance from waste waters will be investigated. The project results will offer answers for the pulping process and waste water treatment plant design how to minimize VOC load from mechanical pulping into the nature.

Actions and means involved:

VOC emissions and effluents of aerobic and anaerobic waste water systems in mechanical pulping mills will be investigated and measured, and VOC balances will be determined.

The performance of three abatement systems (catalytic incineration, biofiltration and UV-filtration) will be tested in both aerobic and anaerobic waste water purification processes of pulp mills. Pilot tests will be carried out at Stora Enso Anjala mill in Finland (aerobic) and in Germany (anaerobic). Piloting will be made with small scale installations to gather experience for full size system design and dimensioning.

The feasibility study of three different VOC emission cleaning technologies will be carried out. The techniques, necessary properties, accessories and automation will be investigated and specified to successfully optimise the system, which is necessary to guarantee the overall system efficiency and reliability. The pilot tests will be carefully monitored. The features and limitations of the individual VOC cleaning techniques will be investigated and described in the project to improve the applicability of the tested cleaning systems towards real life solutions. Based on the results of the pilot tests and experience and knowledge of the equipment manufacturers and other project partners, a techno-economic assessment for full-scale VOC abatement systems will be produced.

Project results will be actively disseminated through internet, seminars, meetings, conferences and publications.

Expected results:

The project will provide information about the amount of VOCs in waste waters of mechanical pulp production. The VOC balance in waste water treatment in mechanical pulping mill will be determined. It will bring information about the abatement differences between existing aerobic and anaerobic waste water purification systems. It will also produce information which of the investigated abatement techniques works best in aerobic and anaerobic waste water purification plants.

The project will provide a description of a VOC abatement technology technically and economically feasible for control of VOC emissions from mechanical and semi-chemical pulping processes, which might have also an application potential in other problematic VOC sources. With this technology it will be possible to reduce VOC emissions in waste waters from pulping by 40-45 % (~5.000 tons VOC less annually in Europe) as well as it will eliminate related odour problem. If the pilot pulp mills took in use the piloted VOC control technology, each of them could reduce their VOC waste water effluents by about 0,4 kg VOC/t pulp (i. e. 40-45 % reduction of emissions) as a direct result of the project. This corresponds to around 150 tons VOC annually in Stora Enso Anjala pilot mill. Such a change would create healthier environment for the pulp mills’ workers and people living in the vicinity of the pulping mills.

Project outcomes can be utilized by regulatory authorities in assessing the total VOC emissions in mechanical pulping. In addition project results can be utilized in setting the VOC emission limit values for mechanical pulping industry in Europe. After that the project outcomes will be utilized in pulp mill design and sectors facing the same environmental problems.

Agreement number: LIFE09 ENV/FI/000568

Project duration: 1.10.2010 - 30.09.2013