SRI has examined the organosolv (organic solvation) pulping of Australian bagasse using technology supplied by Ecopulp. In the process, bagasse is reacted with aqueous ethanol in a digester at elevated temperatures (between 150 degrees Celsius and 200 degrees Celsius). The products from the digester are separated using proprietary technology before further processing into a range of saleable products. Test trials were undertaken using two batch digesters; the first capable of pulping about 25g of wet depithed bagasse and the second, larger samples of about 1.5kg of wet depithed bagasse. From this study, the unbleached pulp produced from fresh bagasse did not have very good strength properties for the production of corrugated medium for cartons and bleached pulp. In particular, the lignin contents as indicated by the Kappa number for the unbleached pulps are high for making bleached pulp. However, in spite of the high lignin content, it is possible to bleach the pulp to acceptable levels of brightness up to 86.6%ISO. The economics were assessed for three tier pricing (namely low, medium and high price). The economic return for a plant that produces 100 air dry t/d of brownstock pulp is satisfactory for both high and medium pricing levels of pricing. The outcomes from the project justify that work should continue through to either pilot plant or upgraded laboratory facility
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