Latin American applied research
versión impresa ISSN 0327-0793
The problem of optimizing the alkaline impregnation of wood chips is posed and solved under usual restrictions. The cost to be optimized balances opposite criteria by taking economics and product quality into account, and is conditioned by the system dynamics. Evolution is modeled from typical transport phenomena equations. Optimization is attacked in the lines of variational calculus, although the final treatment involves numerical methods. Cost function design is provided for: alkali consumption, thermal energy consumption, product quality, and total production; each one affected by a preference-weighting coefficient. A new parameter, the "Deacetylation Index", is introduced as an observable quantity for tracking the end of the digestion stage in pulping processes. This index turns out to be significant even at low temperatures. Cost terms depend essentially on three design variables: (i) alkaline bulk concentration, (ii) digester temperature, and (iii) total duration of the process. An algorithm to ascertain the optimal values of these variables is devised. Numerical results provide insight in deciding changes on design variables in case they are allowed within a certain extent to be manipulated.
Palabras clave : Optimization; Transport Processes; Alkaline Pulping.