Several African countries now support sophisticated tissue production facilities, one of which is Nigeria, where Bel Papyrus has been consolidating its leading position in the region. With its investment in a new Toscotec line in Lagos this year, PM 3, taking its annual production capacity above 45,000 tonnes, Bel Papyrus is something of a pioneer among tissue producers in the dynamic ECOWAS countries in West Africa. A further investment project due for completion in September 2015 will take Bel Papyrus to 75,000 tonnes/yr. The original sloped wire machine started up in 1990 (PM 1), followed by a MODUlO crescent former line in 2004 (PM 2).
Nigeria is expected to see growth in tissue consumption of around 6% for the foreseeable future according to riSi’s Outlook for World Tissue. This is a similar rate of growth as predicted for the whole continent, although Nigeria, with a population of more than 150 million, accounts for around 10% of Africa’s consumption alone, even when South Africa’s relatively substantial consumption is taken into account.
Africa’s total tissue consumption of around 2% of the world total is a small but important part of a big picture: Toscotec has notably sold 25 lines to China alone in the past three years compared with a handful in Africa in total. But the company nonetheless sees Africa as a continent moving towards more sophisticated technology, and therefore one which requires commitment and attention. A specific brief from Bel Papyrus combined with challenging local conditions was also particularly suited to Toscotec’s specialism in turnkey (engineering and procurement) projects, where it builds or sources, and engineers the complete installation, from stock preparation to rewinder. The location of the project is never an impediment, and complex recycled paper plants are very much within its expertise, as well as the more standard virgin fiber lines.
To begin with stock preparation, Bel Papyrus wanted to create the best quality recycled fiber-based tissue paper it had ever produced, with higher brightness of not less than 80°ISO and fewer specks. However, it needed to achieve this using a lower quality raw material. The fiber source which Bel Papyrus had in mind for its new line was practically unselected waste paper, as opposed to the selected, mainly white waste paper it has used for its existing lines. The furnish mix is expected to be 60% mixed office waste, 30% waste magazine paper and 10% old newspapers. It soon became clear that Bel Papyrus needed a stock preparation system which was capable of dealing with the toughest of furnish, so it had to feature all the appropriate technologies.
The new installation features two separate stock preparation lines: one for virgin pulp and the other for recycled fiber. The lines have been designed to allow a mix of furnish in due course, although this was not the initial intention.
As turnkey supplier, Toscotec commissioned and engineered the stock preparation installation using top quality equipment, representing the best available technology from each sub-supplier, including high consistency pulping, screening, flotation deinking, low density cleaning, first loop washing, fast hot dispersion system, a first oxidative bleaching, second washing and finally a second (reductive) bleaching stage. Four separate water loops allow best fiber recovery, water cleanliness and reduction of fresh water consumption by re-use of part of the process water. Toscotec also supplied a reject treatment system and a sludge dewatering plant which is pre-prepared to provide incineration when required.
It is essentially a one-and-a-half-loop deinking line. A second deinking loop could be added to make it a two-loop line, but Bel Papyrus has certainly commissioned a very comprehensive system to achieve its ambitious aims in terms of quality. It is, however, possible to bypass certain stock preparation stages if the mill chooses to produce a slightly lower quality of recycled fiber and save energy in the process. Toscotec also carried out tests on the raw material received from Bel Papyrus on a pilot plant reproducing the complete line, after which Bel Papyrus was satisfied that its ambitions in terms of cleanliness and brightness were realistic.
The process was studied with a critical focus on reducing consumption and increasing yield. For example, guaranteed electric consumption for tissue machine and auxiliaries is between 500 and 600 kWh/ ton. Ash content is up to a maximum 28% and up to 38% including fines in the pulper which is reduced in the deinking line down to 2% at the machine chest inlet. The yield from the deinking line (in terms of fiber) is up to 65%.
Fresh water is at a premium in Lagos and water consumption has therefore been kept to a minimum. With the use of filtered clarified water wherever possible, fresh water consumption is around half that of an equivalent line installed where fresh water is more plentiful.
Power is also something of a challenge. To guarantee continuity of power in an area where the electricity can be cut off without warning, Bel Papyrus has been obliged to build a substantial facility with gas and diesel generators which almost equals the size of the main machine hall. The result is that the paper machine is working towards its 1,800-m/min potential, and power will not be a restrictive factor.
THE TISSUE MACHINE
The new tissue machine, which started up in June this year, is a Toscotec AHEAD 1.5S crescent former model with single-layer headbox, single press configuration and steel Yankee dryer (TT SYD 12FT). The design speed is 1,800 m/min and web width 2,850 mm. Further equipment within the scope of supply includes a steam generator, air compressors, a TT WIND-P slitter rewinder with three unwind stands, plus a calendaring station and jumbo reel wrapping machine.
The configuration of the new tissue machine takes into account the demanding nature of the raw material. Even though the deinking line has proved its ability to generate bright, clean pulp, the mill still took precautions such as having a long felt run and particularly rigorous felt cleaning and conditioning so as to leave nothing to chance.
Toscotec adapted the layout of the tissue machine, rewinder and ancillaries to fit in an existing building and modified an annexed building to accommodate the stock preparation plant, and in particular the deinking line.
As Bel Papyrus prepares for PM 4 in 2015, the cooperation between this visionary Nigerian company and Toscotec continues. Riad Baloukji, managing director of the Boulos Group of companies which includes Bel Papyrus, explains the motivation for this continuing relationship: “Besides the long term and successful cooperation between our companies, the decisional factor for choosing Toscotec once again for this challenging project was its ability to provide ‘state-of-the-art’ equipment and realise complex ‘turnkey’ projects worldwide.”
Bel Papyrus will have practically tripled its capacity in less than three years, showing ambition and belief in the region’s potential as a market for quality tissue products. The ability to turn the most challenging raw material into not just an acceptable product, but one appreciated for its brightness and quality, will send a strong message to the market about how local challenges need not curtail ambition.