What are Lignosulphonates ?

Paper exists over 2000 years and, during this time, not much has changed in the basic principles of production. Vegetable fibres are still mixed with water, and then crushed, cleaned, thickened, and soaked again and afterwards scooped off with a sieve. The fibre compound thus obtained, is then condensed and dried.

The Chinese are considered to be the inventors of paper; they used the bast fibres of the mulberry trees, china grass, cotton and even old fabrics as a basic fibre material. Around 600 A.D. the art of producing paper became known in other parts of the world; first in Japan, then in Arabia and, finally, also in Europe. Around 1120, in the vicinity of Genoa, the first paper mills were registered. The Italians were the first who invented the trademark for paper, namely the water mark.

Senator Ulman Stromer established the first German paper mill in 1390 near Nuremberg. At first, church administrations, chanceries and merchants were the largest paper consumers, but after Gutenberg's invention of printing in the 15th century, paper consumption increased heavily.

In 1680, the Dutch were the first to replace the crushing hammers, which broke up the fibres, by a machine in which the pulp was crushed by a rotating drum. This milling device, called The Dutchman, was one of the most important pieces of equipment in the process until World War II. In 1799, the Frenchman Louis Robert invented the mechanically moved sieve, which is still in principle, the basis of today's paper producing machines. However, there were still not enough fibres for an industrial paper production.

In this situation, the method of producing wood pulp, developed by Gottlob Keller in 1841, and the invention of producing cellulose from wood after 1860, brought a fundamental breakthrough with the possibility of mass production of fibres: a basis for industrial paper production was created.

Fibres, water and other additives are needed for the production of paper, cardboard and pasteboard. With regard to quantity, wastepaper is the most important resource for fibres, followed by cellulose and wood pulp. The desired paper qualities are determined by the fibres used, the admixture of additives or their appliance as spreading aids.

Wood as raw material for the cellulose industry consists mainly of cellulose, hemicelluloses, lignin and tannin. Lignin is a natural polyphenol and acts as macromolecule and binding matrix for the growing of wood in the inner structure of more complicated plants. Because of its high polymer construction it also protects against UV, fungus and bacteria.

Tannin, which is included as polyphenolic particle especially in barks of a number of trees, increases the biological resistance of plant structures against decay, pests and animals. Depending on the origin of the tree its chemical structure varies considerably. Because of this, special lignosulphonates are working well in the field of pesticides but also in the re-tanning process as a filling agent.

During the cellulose manufacturing process lignosulphonates are manufactured as a by-product and are still not recognized a valuable product. Approximately 50 million tons of lignosulphonates are burnt and only 2.5 - 3 million (only 5%) - are used as a product. Lignosulphonates are used predominantly to refine products in the concrete industry, to palletize concentrated animal fodder and other applications in the field of dispersing or complexion agents.