Binderless Fiberboard Made from Primary and Secondary Pulp and Paper Sludge


  • Sébastien Migneault
  • Ahmed Koubaa
  • Bernard Riedl
  • Hamid Nadji
  • James Deng
  • S. Y. (Tony) Zhang


Fiberboard, industrial waste, adhesion, material characterization, recycling


Pulp and paper sludge is valuable in fiberboard manufacturing because primary sludge (PS) contains fibers and secondary sludge (SS) has adhesive properties. We evaluated properties of binderless fiberboard made from conventional pulp and paper mill sludge sources using a factorial design in which the factors were SS:PS ratio (1:9, 2:8, and 3:7) and pulping process (thermomechanical [TMP], chemical-thermomechanical [CTMP], and kraft). Sludge was collected, refined, dried, and characterized for chemical composition and fiber length. Internal bond strength of CTMP panels increased 90% and thickness swell of TMP panels improved 92% with increasing SS content from 10-30%. IR Fourier transform and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy analyses were conducted to better understand these results. Increased bonding was attributed to presence of proteins and lignin on the sludge fiber surface, which enhanced adhesion during hot pressing, whereas surface contamination decreased bonding efficiency. The TMP formulation at SS:PS ratio 3:7 met the ANSI requirement for basic hardboard. All other formulations were not dimensionally stable enough to meet the standard. The CTMP source resulted in the highest mechanical properties, and thickness swell was similar for the TMP and CTMP pulping processes. The kraft source produced low-integrity and dimensionally unstable panels.


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Research Contributions