Steel Alternatives for the Pulp and Paper Industry

News outlets and analysts continue to herald the decline of printed information as modern users increasingly turn to their smart devices to find and digest information. Traditional publishers have fed this trend by providing more numbers of digital magazines and eBooks that are vastly cheaper than their hardcopy counterparts. However, the relationship between printing and digital processes can no longer be described in such binary terms, as both the pulp and paper industry and the digital sector have grown enormously in recent years. This is due to numerous factors, including:

  • Efficient steel alternatives in processing plants refining the ecological footprint, cost-efficiency, and product yield of the industry;
  • Improved environmental policies and wider pushes towards sustainability;
  • Exciting new innovations and applications for wood pulp and paper products.

Despite a comprehensive drop in print news circulation, there are currently more papermaking plants worldwide than ever before. Cheaper factory components capable of withstanding the significant corrosive elements of pulp treatment and paper pressing have supported this growth. Fiberglass structures have been firmly established as the optimal steel alternatives for the structure of mixing and storage tanks for caustic lime and acids, as well as for water drainage during the pressing stage of the process.

Wood pulping and bleaching plants use multiple processes to convert raw materials to paper, including mechanical tumbling and chemical treatment. Conventional metal components will exhibit gradual degradation over time due to effluent vapors, thermal fluctuation, and physical abrasion. Steel alternatives such as FRP structural materials exhibit little to no chemical corrosion when exposed to bleaching materials used in conventional pulp treatment and storage procedures. They are ideal structural steel alternatives for the pulp and paper sector as there is no danger of hydrate formation in FRP substrates, meaning components will not rust or decay due to steam – which is commonly produced by the thermal processes of separating fibers from wood chips. Cost-effective steel alternatives have formed the basis of multiple industrial innovations in recent decades, enabling more global nations to establish their own processing facilities and improving global economies.

This rapid growth however is associated with a radical environmental impact. Unregulated deforestation, increased global greenhouse gas emissions, and the easy affordability of paper commodities have all had a significant impact on worldwide ecosystems. It is believed that pulp and paper processing consumes as much as 35% of the world’s harvested trees. However, there is a gradual motion towards improved sustainability within the industry, which is emphasized by the financially-motivated push towards using steel alternatives.

Steel Alternatives and Sustainability

The adoption of steel alternatives in any industry is associated with ecological benefits. Not only is fiberglass production vastly cheaper than that of the steel industry, it is also more sustainable, comprising relatively benign and low-carbon emission manufacturing processes to that of metallurgy.

This sustainable acceleration is inherent in pulp and paper processes, which increasingly use secondary paper products to produce recycled materials. Paper recycling uses exceptional amounts of water to draw ink from materials and reduce them back to a pulpy mass. The constant presence of moisture is another indicator that efficient steel alternatives are required for continually ecological pulp and paper manufacturing processes. Given this focus on recycled materials, it should come as no surprise that China is at the center of pulp and paper growth.

The People’s Republic is the international recycling and manufacturing capital, and can now match the annual paper output of Wisconsin, the papermaking capital of the USA, in just three weeks. China is currently planning to expand its global paper import capacity to more than 20 million tons.

Paper and Pulp Innovations

What this exceptional period of change does not illustrate is why pulp and paper making is undergoing such a period of growth and change, given the rise of digital technology. This is because the availability of steel alternatives is not the only material innovation to radicalize the industry. Plastic waste is gradually being undercut by governments attempting to tackle marine pollution, with paper products increasingly finding utilization as plastic replacements. Paper bags and straws as well as carboard packaging are increasingly replacing polymer products, while nanotechnology research into the structure of nanocellulose is improving the strength and broader application of paper-based products. Just as digital devices supplanted print products, and steel alternatives such as fiberglass have edged into the conventional structural materials market, pulp and paper is using this period of industrial flux to find a new foothold in modern commercial sectors.

Steel Alternatives from Strongwell

At Strongwell, we have championed the capabilities of fiberglass products as viable steel alternatives since 1956, with a range of established products suitable for the pulp and paper industry.

If you would like any more information about our steel alternatives, please do not hesitate to contact us.