Water requirements of the pulp and paper industry

Water Supply Paper 1330- A



Water, of varied qualities, is used for several purposes in the manufacture of pulp and paper, as a vehicle for transporting the constituents of paper in the paper machines; as process water for cooking wood chips to make pulp; as a medium for heat transfer; and for washing the pulpwood, the woodpulp, and the machines that handle the pulp.

About 3,200 million gallons of water was withdrawn from surface- and ground-water sources each day during 1950 for the use of the pulp and paper industry. This is about 4 percent of the total estimated industrial withdrawal of water in the Nation

The paper industry in the United States has been growing at a rapid rate. It has increased about tenfold in the last 50 years and has doubled every 15 years. The 1950 production of paper was about 24 million tons, which amounts to about 85 percent of the domestic consumption. In 1950, the pulp mills of the country produced more than 14 million tons of woodpulp, which supplied about 85 percent of the demand by the paper mills and other industries. The remainder of the fiber for paper manufacture was obtained from imported woodpulp, from reclaimed wastepaper, and from other fibers including rags and straw. The nationwide paper consumption for 1955 has been estimated at 31,700,000 tons.

Woodpulp is classified according to the process by which it is made. Every woodpulp has characteristics that are carried over into the many and diverse grades of paper. Groundwood pulp is manufactured by simply grinding up wood and refining the resulting product. Soda, sulfite, and sulfate pulps are manufactured by chemically breaking down the lignin that cements the cellulose of the wood together and removing, cleaning, and sometimes bleaching the resulting fibers. Some woodpulp is produced by other methods. Sulfate-pulp mills are increasing in number and in rated daily capacity and are manufacturing more than half of the present domestic production of woodpulp. Most of the newer and larger woodpulp mills are manufacturing sulfate pulp; because of the antipollution laws, many sulfite-pulp mills are being converted to sulfate-pulp mills. The waste from the manufacture of a ton of sulfate pulp is much more readily disposed of than that from a ton of sulfite pulp. Pulp mills are located near the source of raw material, which means that they are located in the eastern half of the United States and in the Pacific Northwest. It is advantageous for paper mills to be located close to a market and therefore a large number of paper mills are in the northeastern section of the United States from Minnesota to Maine. However, much of the coarser paper, which will ship well, is produced close to the pulp mills.

The entire process of making paper from pulpwood, with special reference to water use is briefly described to provide an understanding of how the water is used and reused.

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Water requirements of the pulp and paper industry
Series title Water Supply Paper
Series number 1330
Chapter A
DOI 10.3133/wsp1330A
Year Published 1955
Language English
Publisher U.S. Government Printing Office
Description Report: viii, 71p.: Plate: 19.80 x 13.60 inches
Larger Work Title Water requirements of selected industries
First page 1
Last page 71
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