Wheat waste reworked into pulp alternative

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In Washington state, Columbia Pulp is looking to convert wheat straw into a higher-value products, such as toilet paper and takeout food boxes, that would otherwise be produced from trees. Wheat straw currently has little commercial value, often used as livestock bedding or burned.

The company’s 18,000-square-foot plant is in Pomeroy is operational and will begin to ship product samples in the next two weeks, Mike Schock, one of company’s four founders, tells The Spokesman Review. The company also operates a 140,000-square-foot plant at Starbuck, Washington. The latter plant will produce 400 tons/day once. “This will be the first commercial, non-wood pulp plant in North America,” Schock said.

The 10 tons/day plant at Pomeroy will be used to “debug the process” Schock adds

The company’s process uses heat, water and chemicals, such as peroxide, to isolate the fibers in wheat straw and turn it into pulp. Columbia’s process consumes less than one-third the energy of traditional pulp production, Schock said.