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Sunflower oil makes paper hydrophobic

June 21, 2012

New eco-friendly sizing agent for paper developed by Department of Chemistry at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna and endorsed by Kemira GesmbH

In paper factories damaging emissions are being reduced and bleaching methods are chlorine-free. Eco-friendly production methods are increasingly being used. Investments in research are increasing to improve the sustainability of paper. Worldwide focus is currently on the internal sizing of paper which will make the paper liquid-repellant.
The main goal is a sizing agent for paper which is based on alternative and natural resources. Ideally it should decrease the dependence on petroleum products and be a sustainable and an environmentally acceptable alternative with the same efficiency and features.

Renewable resources rather than crude oil

This new method was developed thanks to the successful replacement of crude oil-based olefin (ASA) by plant oil. This more eco-friendly product is independent of materials from the oil industry because it is obtained from renewable resources.
Many different renewable raw materials have been tested over the years. A specially bred type of sunflower oil – called SOHO - has turned out to be the most promising source for sizing. Rapeseed oil is also looking encouraging. These materials have been found to possess good sizing characteristics. Both can be purchased locally, therefore transport distance to the production facilities is short. In turn, material costs decline and the environment benefits from fewer emissions.
By means of a chemical process the oil of high-oleic sunflowers (SOHO) becomes a new, sustainable sizing agent. This sizing agent (MSOHO) has several advantages over the crude-oil based ASA: No conversion of the olefin is necessary as it already exists in the fatty acid chain. Deleting this step reduces production time and energy costs.