Application of Artificial Intelligence at Pulp Refiners to Optimize Energy Usage and Product Quality

Millar Western Forest Products Ltd.

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Whitecourt, AB

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Millar Western Forest Products Ltd. operates a bleached chemi-thermo-mechanical pulp (BCTMP) mill in Whitecourt, Alberta. The refining stage of the mill’s pulping process, in which the cellulose fibres in wood chips are separated by electrically-driven mechanical refiners, is a significant consumer of energy from the power grid and indirect source of associated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The proposed project contemplates use of a Pulp Expert System (PES) driven by artificial intelligence (AI) at this refining stage to reduce energy consumption and improve product quality. Once fully implemented, the project is expected to reduce GHG emissions by over 23,000 tCO2e annually through reduced consumption of grid electricity.