Paper Science

Materials classified as paper are diverse and range, for example, from bathroom tissue, to newspaper and cardboard for packaging.

Despite the rather different physical properties of these materials they have essentially the same chemical composition as they consist primarily of natural cellulosic fibres. The difference between different types of paper arises mainly from the choice of raw materials and the influence of manufacturing processes.The paper science group studies the influence of these factors, including recycling and process chemistry, on the physical properties of the sheet with a view to improving these and increasing the efficient use of raw materials and energy in manufacturing processes.

The Paper Science Group has strong ties with industry, and has collaborations with Aylesford Newsprint, Billerud, Abitibi Consolidated, and M-Real.

Research focus

  • Structure of stochastic fibrous materials
  • Orthotropic shrinkage of paper during drying
  • Flow in saturated compressible porous materials
  • Surface and colloid chemistry
  • Friction of paper surfaces


The Group has dedicated sheet forming and fibre processing laboratories and a pilot Fourdrinier paper machine with associated pilot scale fibre preparation equipment. Our testing laboratories are well equipped with instruments for measuring a full range of mechanical and optical properties of paper. We have excellent facilities for characterisation of sheet structure including spatial and Fourier domain image processing, fluid porometry and calibrated beta-radiography.

Research Image

Effect of the Creping process on a Softwood Tracheid in Bathroom Tissue

Effect of the Creping process on a Softwood Tracheid in Bathroom Tissue

This scanning electron microscope image (at 2000× magnification) shows the mechanical deformation of a softwood cell, caused by the creping process when manufacturing bathroom tissue. Creping is carried out in order to provide bathroom tissue with unique mechanical properties which influence softness.

The image was taken using standard scanning electron microscopy techniques. Adobe Photoshop was used on the image to give the grayscale image colour in order to highlight the intricate detail of the fibre.

Acknowledgements: EPSRC and Croda Chemicals Ltd.

Image: PhD Student Rinkal Desai for the School of Materials Photography Competion 2009

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