National Bamboo has invested  in sponsored research with NCSU to study the total supply chain feasibility and economics of growing, harvesting and pulping bamboo in the southeast.  We are currently participating in a NCSU sponsored consortium to continue this effort with a leading pulp producer and tissue maker.  

Utilization of Bamboo as a Pulp and Papermaking Fiber: a New Look

Richard B. Phillips, Ved Naithani, Hou Min Chang,  and Hasan Jameel. 

North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695

Many bamboo species have been studied over the past 50 years as potential papermaking fiber.  More than 1.3 million metric tonnes of bamboo pulp are produced worldwide, mainly in China, India and Southeast Asia, but none to our knowledge in North America.

We have developed an integrated plantation – paper mill – marketplace analysis of several candidate species currently being cultivated in eastern North Carolina by National Bamboo LLC, Raleigh, NC. 

The model includes all plantation establishment, maintenance, harvesting and transportation costs to a pulp and paper mill.  Taken together, with a Discount Rate of 8%, these parameters determine the transfer price to a pulp mill.  A detailed Base Case pulp mill model was prepared for a recovery boiler limited mill producing uncoated freesheet on one machine and market southern bleached softwood kraft pulp (SBSK) on a pulp dryer.  The Proposed Case is to displace the SBSK with bamboo kraft pulp, taking advantage of the higher pulping yield from bamboo to optimize production from the assets in place for cooking, bleaching, liquor recovery and pulp drying, up to the Base Case recovery boiler limit.  The economic performance of the Proposed Case is directly linked to the bamboo transfer price versus the loblolly pine incumbent species, the level of increased pulp yield achieved in laboratory pulping and bleaching experiments, and the selling price of bamboo kraft pulp versus SBSK. 

The results of the study demonstrate there is an attractive technical and financial opportunity to employ bamboo as a pine replacement.