Biopulping is the fungal pretreatment of wood chips for production of mechanical or chemical pulps. Its concept is based on the ability of a restricted number of white-rot fungi to colonize and degrade selectively the lignin in wood, thereby leaving cellulose relatively intact. This process appears to have the potential to overcome some problems associated with conventional chemical and mechanical pulping methods. Biopulping is an environmentally friendly technology that substantially increases mill throughput or reduces electrical energy consumption at the same throughput in conjunction with mechanical pulping. Electrical energy is the major cost of conventional mechanical pulping. By producing stronger pulp with longer fibers and increased fibrillation, biomechanical pulping may reduce the amount of kraft pulp required to increase pulp strength. Some selected lignin-degrading fungi can alter cell walls of wood in a short period after inoculation. A comprehensive evaluation of biopulping at the Forest Products Laboratory showed that these fungi can be economically grown on wood chips in an outdoor chip pile-based system. Results also demonstrate the great potential of fungal pretreatment of wood chips prior to chemical pulp production. The most prominent benefit of fungal pretreatment is improved effects on cooking, leading to reduced Kappa numbers/reduced active alkali charge and/or reduced cooking time after only 1–2 weeks of fungal treatment. Fungal pretreatment also reduces the pitch content in the wood chips and improves the pulp quality in terms of brightness, strength, and bleachability. The bleached biopulps are easier to refine than the reference pulp. The process has been scaled up toward industrial level, with optimization of various process steps and evaluation of economic feasibility. The process can be carried out in chip piles or in silos. The biochemical mechanism of biopulping is still mostly unknown. It is, however, likely that the biopulping effect is caused by the lignin-degrading system of white-rot fungi. There has been quite little correlation between removal of specific components of the wood by the fungi and efficacy of the fungal pretreatment in either energy savings or paper strength property improvement. Biopulping technology has advanced rapidly within recent years, and pilot mill trials have been started worldwide. This technology coincides perfectly with environmentally safe production strategies and can be implemented in existing production plants without major changes.


Biopulping Fungal pretreatment White-Rot fungi Bio-chemical pulping Biomechanical pulping Kraft pulp Phanerochaete chrysosporium Ceriporiopsis subvermispora 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Pulp and Paper ConsultantKanpurIndia

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