The impact of mechanical log surface damage on chip size uniformity during debranching and debarking Eucalyptus pulpwood logs using a single-grip harvester
Mechanised harvesting operations are becoming more prevalent in South Africa with the realisation that motormanual and manual harvesting operations pose significant health and safety risks to workers. The damage inflicted by single-grip harvester feed rollers and delimbing knives on log surfaces during debranching and debarking eucalypts, may affect eventual chip quality. Chip quality influences pulp quality and recovery in the kraft pulping process. This study investigates the influence of two mechanised debranching and debarking treatments on Eucalyptus pulp logs (three- and five-feed roller passes along the stem surface) by feed rollers and delimbing knives on chip uniformity, size and purity. The two mechanised treatments to three log classes (base, middle and top logs) were compared with chips produced from manually debarked logs. Manually debarked logs produced significantly less undesirable-sized chips than both three and five-pass processed logs. The volume of undesirablesized chips produced during chipping also increased with decreasing log size. Manually debarked logs produced chips with significantly less bark than three-pass-processed logs (0.008% vs 0.062%), and five-pass-processed logs produced chips with significantly less bark than three-pass-processed logs (0.018% vs 0.062%). Middle logs also produced chips with significantly less bark than base logs (0.016% vs 0.056%), and top logs produced chips with significantly less bark than base logs (0.017% vs 0.056%). In all cases the bark content on logs was considerably less than the maximum of 1.0% generally specified by kraft pulp mills.
Keywords: debarking passes, Eucalyptus pulpwood, kraft pulp, mechanised debarking