Starch recovered from potato processing in the Columbia Basin, Washington, used in papermaking at NORPAC newsprint mill in Longview, Washington, also to produce eco-friendly inks used on IP's corrugated boxes

LOS ANGELES , January 30, 2012 () –

Starch that is recovered during the processing of potatoes into foods such as French fries is finding its way into the production of paper and inks in Washington, reported the Columbia Basin Herald on Jan. 30.

Western Polymer Corp. in Moses Lake, Washington, is buying the process water in slurry form from various potato processing plants in Washington and turning it into a dry starch that is bagged and shipped to industrial customers.

One of these customers is the North Pacific Paper Corp. (NORPAC) newsprint mill in Longview, Washington, which receives the potato starch in bags weighing about a ton each, the Columbia Basin Herald reported.

The mill liquefies the starch and uses it “like a glue” in papermaking, said Anthony Chavez, public affairs manager for Weyerhaeuser Co., which is part owner of NORPAC. The potato starch binds the paper fibers together to increase “surface strength” and smoothness.

Columbia Basin’s potato starch also is used to make boxes that the French fry producers use to store and ship their fries, according to Lynn Townsend-White, CEO of Western Polymer, reported the Columbia Basin Herald.

It is also incorporated into eco-friendly inks used for printing on corrugated boxes made by International Paper Co., said Michele Vargas, a company manager. The company’s Earthsaver Inks are based on potato starch instead of petroleum-derived raw materials.

In its process, Western Polymer takes the potato slurry, which is only about 30% starch, and first cleans it through a system of screens and centrifugal cones that separate out the dirt and debris, the Columbia Basin Herald reported.

Then the starch is heated to 30 degrees centigrade, the pH level is raised to about 11 with sodium hydroxide, and a chemical is added to give it a positive charge.

After about 24 hours, the pH is lowered to stop the chemical reaction. The starch is then vacuum-filtered to suck out the water, and finally flash dried and bagged, reported the Columbia Basin Herald.

The NORPAC mill, which is the largest newsprint facility in North America, has three machines producing more than 720,000 tonnes per year of newsprint and uncoated groundwood publication papers, according to Weyerhaeuser’s website.

The primary source of this article is the Columbia Basin Herald, Moses Lake, Washington, on Jan. 30, 2012.


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