CMPC runs world’s first ATMOS tissue machine

Interest has been very high as CMPC has tested new technology that could have a big impact on tissuemaking.

Perini Journal

“The idea behind ATMOS is really so simple that it is somewhat strange that no one thought of it before,” says Carlos Hirigoyen, Director of Industrial Development at CMPC Tissue in Chile. “It reminds me a bit of when surface winding was introduced for tissue converting and everyone wondered why it had not happened earlier. Now ATMOS is here and our experience with the first commercial scale machine has shown that the process concept is a sound one, that the tissue quality obtained has confirmed the results from the pilot machine, and that this is a simpler way than TAD to make structured tissue.” The first ATMOS unit is installed on TM 2 at CMPC’s very modern tissue mill at Talagante, Chile, just outside Santiago. TM 2 now can swing between a conventional Crescent Former configuration and the new ATMOS setup. However, TM 2 was not originally intended to be an ATMOS machine. Hirigoyen explains the history of the project.


LOOKING AT PREMIUM TISSUE. “For several years, we had had an interest in structured tissue products, although we were not convinced that TAD was the right thing for us yet, due to high investment costs and the fact that a TAD machine can only make TAD. While premium tissue products are practically inexistent in South America at the present time, we compete in this market with the large multinationals who eventually can decide to market TAD products here with a product advantage in some segments. For this reason we had been looking at various options to have the capability of making these grades, mainly as a market insurance. In 2004 we placed the order with Voith for TM 2, which was to be conventional twin wire configuration, but we had left some extra space in the frame between the forming section and the Yankee for the possibility of future modifications at a later date.”

“A few months after we signed the contract in February 2004, Voith contacted us and confidentially told us that they were ready to launch a new forming system that offered TAD-like quality but with lower costs both for capital investment and production. Naturally, this got our interest and eventually we agreed to install the first ATMOS unit on the machine.”

TM 2 started up as a conventional machine in mid 2005 and then, in mid 2006, the ATMOS unit was added to the machine through a rebuild. Since that time, CMPC has run the machine in ATMOS mode three times, with the first run in October 2006 for 30 days, the second run in April 2007 for 20 days and the third trial run taking place in October 2007 for 20 days. A fourth run is planned for early 2008, in February or March.

So far, says Hirigoyen, the results on the ATMOS machine have validated the figures that VOITH set forth based on work on their pilot machine. As the market for structured tissue is still in the very early development stage in South America, CMPC has not seen the need to run the machine in the ATMOS setup other than for the trials agreed with VOITH. Quite simply, CMPC needs conventional tissue to meet its market demands so it is not overly motivated to run ATMOS configuration more often at this point. The ATMOS product however, is being used already by CMPC for Away From Home dispenser towels, still a small market, where multinational competitors do offer similar TAD products in the Chilean market. “We are now prepared should TAD products be introduced in the future in the consumer market as well.”


PRODUCT QUALITY EQUAL TO TAD. Hirigoyen says the trials have gone as programmed. “Considering the giant step forward that this technology represents, and the fact that we have been running it on only three trial runs of 20-30 days each time,” continues Hirigoyen, “it has been as expected. Of course, initially it was quite challenging to achieve process stability, but after each trial we made various adjustments, along with Voith, which is totally normal for a completely new technology and part of the learning process. What is important is that each new run has shown a substantial improvement.”

Regarding adjustments on the installation following each run, he says that there have been cleanliness issues with drops and holes but this has been worked out. “The product quality is fine and I would say that it is, for all purposes equal to standard TAD. Regarding machine operation, the process is closer to conventional than TAD and somewhere in between in terms of energy consumption. So, when needed, we can get TAD-like quality from a simpler process that is much closer to conventional. The energy consumption is clearly lower than in TAD”, explains Hirigoyen, “but if you want to replace conventional tissue the fiber and energy prices in the specific location must be carefully considered. Presently, for example, with the market and energy situation in Chile, it is economically more convenient for us to make conventional tissue as ATMOS uses more energy than conventional tissue and energy costs in Chile are now three times what they were when the project started.”


QUICK CHANGEOVER TIME. Talagante’s paper mill production manager Victor Turra is also positive about the operation and is especially pleased that TM 2 can swing from conventional to structured and back very rapidly. “The fact that it is a swing machine that can go from the ATMOS configuration back to conventional tissue in a matter of hours is very important for us,” he says. “We feel it is a big advantage to have the possibility to make both types of product, since being stuck with one or the other would be a problem.”

Arturo Celedon, mill manager at Talagante, says that the mill staff has been very motivated and excited to be the first mill in the world to run the new process. “The people in the mill have a lot of enthusiasm and pride. They understood that they would be part of history in the making and have been very happy to be involved in this pioneering work without the slightest hesitation. I think they have been a very important part of the success of these trials and the ATMOS concept.”


Voith: ATMOS is commercially mature technology after only 60 days running time


“The incredible thing about this development”, says Christian Münch, Vice President of Tissue Machines at Voith, “is that the entire ATMOS concept has gone from the early idea stage to proven commercial operation in such an extremely short time. Through the first three runs at Talagante, we have only had about 60 days of running time and 75 total days of machine time. It is now a mature, commercially available technology. We think it is unprecedented to bring a new tissue making concept to this level of stable, high-speed production of premium tissue so rapidly. ATMOS quality proves to be equal in terms of absorbency, softness, bulk and all the aspects that set TAD apart from conventional tissue and it is important to note that this high quality tissue has been made with a high level of recycled fiber (RCF).”

All of the runs were successful Voith says, with the most recent third run in October 2007 for 20 days offering the following highlights:


• Products: 19.0 and 30.0 g/m2 towel paper based on 50%DIP / 50%SW

• Paper quality: premium paper quality achieved with 50% DIP

• Machine speed:

-19.0 g/m2 towel paper: 1200 m/min

-30.0 g/m2 towel paper: 800 m/min

-For both products under these operating conditions, drying capacity was still available for further speed increase (machine equipped with 15” Yankee and 510°C hood)

• Energy consumption (steam, gas and electricity) of the tissue machine on guarantee, with further room for improvements.


Voith says that a major part of the ATMOS success is due to the development by Voith Fabrics of the various ATMOS fabrics involved in producing the structured tissue. The special Magnos creping chemistry package for ATMOS production developed by the chemical supplier Buckman Laboratories played an important role, too.

The next ATMOS run, set for February or March, aims to achieve even higher speeds, lower energy consumption and development of other premium tissue products. The ATMOS family of fabrics is being expanded further with some interesting developments which will offer even greater flexibility for product design, says Münch.


Tissue makers part of the trials

Regarding the most recent trials, Thomas Scherb, Voith’s Technology Development Manager, says that “it is important to note that we are not just saying it was a success. It was actually witnessed by numerous customers who came to Chile to participate in the trials. Their feedback was that it was a very impressive demonstration, with a very steep learning curve and rapid achievement of a stable operation.”

Voith is now, on the one hand, excited that the technology has been proven but, on the other hand, well aware that the important job of truly making ATMOS a financial success still lies ahead. “I think you could say that we made a promise in March of 2006 at Tissue World in Miami,” says Münch, “when we introduced the ATMOS concept and told the world that we were going to rapidly achieve stable industrial operation. Now we have delivered on that promise, and very successfully. But now comes the next test, which is to sell and install more machines to really put ATMOS on the map.”

Login or Register to publish a comment