Market Definition and Introduction
Wood pulp is the ligno-cellulosic fibrous substance produced by either chemically or mechanically separating cellulosic fibers from the lignin present in wood. In semi-chemical wood pulping, wood chips are first softened by chemically treating them in a neutral sodium sulfite solution. They are then subjected to mechanical pulping action with the help of devices such as a disk attrition mill for separation of fibers. Such wood pulp produces high quality paper with varied characteristics.
The semi-chemical wood pulping method yields more as compared to the wholly chemical wood pulping method. In the former process there is approximately 50% lignin retention and 30-40% hemicellulose. Both these factors make semi-chemical wood pulping more commercially attractive than chemical wood pulping. Semi-chemical wood pulp finds utility in important manufacturing processes, such as in the manufacturing of high quality corrugated paper.
The most frequently applied technique in the manufacturing of semi-chemical wood pulp is the Neutral Sulfite Semi Chemical (NSSC) method, in which wood is directly used as a raw material without undergoing the debarking process.
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Key Trends, Drivers
It is noteworthy that the semi-chemical wood pulp manufacturing process is more cost-effective than any other chemical process. This, being a major advantage, drives the global semi-chemical wood pulp market. Moreover, there are numerous advantages offered by the semi-chemical wood pulping method, such as superior fiber strength and higher pulp yield and quality. These factors are expected to propel the global semi-chemical wood pulp market in the upcoming years.
However, stringent regulations regarding the plantation of trees at a global level could affect the growth of the semi-chemical wood pulp market in the next few years. Besides, worldwide regulatory bodies scrutinizing the use of chemicals in the process could also limit the growth of the semi-chemical wood pulp market in the near future.
A key trend in the semi-chemical wood pulp market is that major players are trying to develop processes with increasingly higher chemical recovery; which in turn could lower the production cost of manufacturing semi-chemical wood pulp, thereby driving the market even further. Another expected driving factor for the market is mergers and acquisitions by key market participants as an attempt to gain a competitive advantage. Partnerships and mergers have been a recent trend in the semi-chemical wood pulp market. This came into being because such collaborations help the producer acquire another company’s existing assets and infrastructure. Not only does this give the producer an immediate advantage over competitors, it also helps it gain a large base of new customers in the region. For instance, the Indian business assets (pertaining to pulp and paper manufacturing) owned by Connell Brothers were acquired by a US group, Solenis, a supplier of specialty chemicals.
Important regional trends have been observed in the southern U.S., where the semi-chemical wood pulping process has been undergoing a massive development – in the form of using of hard woods. Although multiple technologies have been developed for the manufacture of semi-chemical wood pulp, predominantly the neutral sulfite wood pulp process and modified sulfate liquors are applied. Also, a new type of semi-chemical pulp is made by chemically treating pulpwood logs under pressure, after which they are subjected to a grinding process, using conventional stone grinders. These new methods produce exceptionally high yields and high strength pulp from hardwoods.
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Examples of some market participants in the global semi-chemical wood pulp market are as follows:
- JK Paper Ltd.
- Ilim Group
- China Haisum Engineering Co., Ltd.
- Andritz Pulp and Paper
- Arkhangelsk PPM
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