Major Players in Finishing Process
As technology advances, there is an increasing demand for better quality papers and specialized paper. Reliance on Kraft’s pulping process to produce longer and higher quality fibers is no longer enough to meet the requirements for better quality and specialized papers. In view of this problem, this post will be focusing on fillers – chemicals used to further enhance specific qualities of the paper product in order to better serve the needs of the consumers. One of such chemical is Calcium Carbonate.
This filler is known worldwide for its ability to enable high brightness and light scattering characteristics on paper. This factor is of a high importance as there is a high demand for white paper in our society. Also, its light scattering property is of high importance in the manufacturing of specialized photo paper. In addition, it is a relatively inexpensive filler, making it one of the most commonly used chemical as compared to its counterparts.
There are two main forms of Calcium Carbonate, namely Grounded Calcium Carbonate (GCC) and Precipitated Calcium Carbonate (PCC). GCC can also be known as natural Limestone as they are obtained from direct grinding of the Limestone mineral. They are generally less pure and of larger particle size as compared to their PCC counterparts. GCC is generally cheaper and provides relatively high brightness when used as a filler, making it a cheap option for cost-effective paper manufacturing
On the other hand, PCC, also known as refined or synthetic Limestone, is made from GCC by first decomposing it first into Lime (CaO). Slaked Lime (Ca(OH)2) can then be obtained by the addition of water to Lime. Carbon Dioxide gas is then bubbled into the aqueous Slaked Lime solution to form Calcium Carbonate, which then precipitate due to its insolubility in water. The particle sizes in PCC are generally smaller and purer than GCC. Hence, it’s a more effective filler in paper as it enables higher brightness, better opacity and printability as well as reduced fiber consumption during paper production. It is less abrasive than GCC due to the smaller mesh size, which results in greater speed and productivity as well as longer life span of the paper machine.
Most of the Calcium Carbonate used in industry are extracted by mining or quarrying. After extraction, further treatments are implemented to process these Limestones to a higher purity form and finally into GCC. GCC can then be further processed to form PCC. The average price of Calcium Carbonate ranges from 150 to200 USD/ton.
Malaysia and USA are the major exporters and India is the major importer.
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