The future of the bioindustry

Project Star is one of the largest private investments in Brazil in the last 20 years, and it has made Bracell the largest producer of dissolving pulp in the world. The mill runs without any fossil fuels and can produce up to three million tonnes of kraft pulp per year.

Bracell’s new plant in Lençóis Paulista, Brazil, brings together the most modern and innovative technologies to achieve the highest levels of sustainability in the pulp production process. This project considerably diversifies and expands Bracell’s production of kraft pulp, increasing it from 250 thousand tonnes/year to 1.5 million tonnes/year of dissolving pulp, or up to three million tonnes/year of kraft pulp. 

This project has been a significant milestone in Bracell’s history. It’s much more than a pulp mill.

The mill has two flexible lines designed primarily to produce dissolving pulp using the latest pulp production technologies, without the use of fossil fuels. The plant will be self-sufficient in energy production, and the surplus will be used to supply the National Interconnected System with clean, high-quality electricity.  

An industry milestone for sustainability and state-of-the-art technology 

After two years of extensive work, the mill started-up in September 2021. Valmet was one of the project’s main partners and delivered the evaporation plant, which has a capacity of 3.5 thousand tonnes of evaporated water per hour; the recausticizing plant, which has a capacity of 31 thousand cubic meters of white liquor per day; two lime kilns, which use biogas as fuel with a production capacity of 1,200 tonnes per day; two biomass dryers; and two biomass gasification plants with a capacity of 87 thermal megawatts each. 

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Project Star was very challenging, because it was executed during the Covid-19 pandemic. The collaboration between the teams was crucial at every stage, especially for the successful start-up and production ramp-up.

The project features state-of-the-art technical, energy and environmental performance equipment. For black liquor evaporation, Valmet provided their Tubel technology in the concentrators and first evaporation effect. This technology is the most robust and reliable solution on the market, with liquor flow on the outside of the tubes to prevent clogging and maintain the plant’s very high availability. A hundred percent of the lime kilns’ energy requirements is supplied by gas from the gasification of biomass, significantly reducing production costs and CO2 emissions. This is the first biomass gasification lime kiln technology supplied to a South American pulp mill. 

“Valmet has combined its technical knowledge obtained from investments in R&D and the experience gained in similar projects implemented around the world for Bracell’s new mill. The lime kilns are operated completely with fuel obtained from biomass gasification. This is the first pulp mill in South America that will not use fossil fuels in this process. Our mission is to convert renewable resources into sustainable results, so I’m very happy to have delivered this key technology for Bracell,” explains Fernando Scucuglia, Pulp and Energy Director, Valmet South America. 

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Bracell is supplied with the most modern and sustainable technology for evaporation, including a white liquor plant supplied by Valmet.

Another sustainable solution delivered by Valmet is the non-condensable gas (NCG) treatment system, which controls and minimizes odors from the chemical pulping processes. 

One of the largest and most sustainable pulp mills in the world 

One of the global leaders in the production of specialty pulp, Bracell has always based its operations on sustainable eucalyptus cultivation and state-of-the-art plants. The company generates around 10,000 jobs in the two states where it operates, including direct and permanent outsourced workers in industrial, forestry and logistics activities. Continuously investing in technology and research to offer high quality products, Project Star is a pioneer in consolidating the company’s sustainable performance. 

Alexandre Figueiredo, Senior Industrial Manager at Bracell in São Paulo, says that the new mill is one of the largest and most sustainable pulp mills in the world. “The project stands out for its sustainable performance, with advanced technology that eliminates the use of fossil fuels and uses renewable raw materials to create biodegradable products. This project has been a significant milestone in Bracell’s history. It’s much more than a pulp mill – it’s the future of the bioindustry, the most modern and sustainable mill in the sector,” Figueiredo says.  

Text Ana Luiza Branco, Livia Bianco  

PHOTOS Thiago Filla