Title of Invention

PRECIPITATED CALCIUM CARBONATE PIGMENT, ESPECIALLY FOR USE IN INKJET PRINTING PAPER COATINGS

Abstract Novel and innovative PCC pigments, having a reduced production cost, able to be used in a paper coating formulations to manufacture coated high-quality matt papers, in particular for inkjet applications. Process for the preparation of same, using a reduced flow rate of a carbon dioxide-containing gas in the PCC carbonation step, which produces stable, porous, agglomerates of PCC featuring unique properties and structure, this step being followed by an upconcentration step to increase the solids content.
Full Text FORM 2
THE PATENT ACT 1970 (39 of 1970)
The Patents Rules, 2003 COMPLETE SPECIFICATION
(See Section 10, and rule 13)
1. TITLE OF INVENTION
PRECIPITATED CALCIUM CARBONATE PIGMENT, ESPECIALLY FOR USE IN INKJET PRINTING PAPER COATINGS

2. APPLICANT(S)
a) Name
b) Nationality
c) Address

OMYA DEVELOPMENT AG SWISS Company BASLERSTRASSE 42, CH-4665 OFTRINGEN, SWITZERLAND

3. PREAMBLE TO THE DESCRIPTION
The following specification particularly describes the invention and the manner in which it is to be performed : -

Technical Field of the Invention
The present invention relates to novel mineral pigments of the precipitated calcium carbonate species (PCC).
More specifically, the invention relates to novel and innovative PCC pigments, able to be used in a paper coating formulations to manufacture coated high-quality matt papers, in particular for inkjet applications, whose print qualities would be identical to commercially-available coated high- quality matt inkjet papers, but coated using pigments having a reduced production cost.
The invention also relates to the production of said novel mineral pigments of the PCC species in slurry form, present in a solids content appropriate for inkjet paper coating on a coater such as a Varibar™, airknife, curtain or blade off-line coater.
Technical Problems
There exists a demand for coated high-quality matt papers, and in particular for papers suitable for inkjet applications, which lead to equal print quality relative to commercial papers of the same grade, but with a lower associated production cost.
Traditionally, high-quality matt inkjet papers have been coated with expensive fumed or precipitated silica, which adds considerably to the paper cost.
One of the main hurdles to achieve an increase in print quality is to increase the optical density of the ink applied to the paper surface, in particular following full colour spectrum dye ink application.
Inkjet printers form images by applying a series of ink dots on the paper surface. The dye inks used in inkjet printing are generally anionic and in a low solids formulation that is naturally very mobile. Good print quality is only obtained if the ink dye remains on the paper surface as the ink solvent penetrates into the paper, leaving a uniform circular dot at the point of application.
It is known that a charge difference between adsorbent and adsorbent, respectively the paper surface and the dye molecules, is generally used to promote dye adsorption.
Hence, one solution to increase optical density lies in increasing the number of cationic sites near the paper surface. If the paper surface is coated, the number of cations present near the surface can be increased by adding cationic additives to the coating formulation. However, adding cationic additives in order to obtain a given optical density adds significantly to the final paper cost.
Increasing the fraction of cationic additive retained in a thin layer near the paper surface, characterised by the coating holdout, is a second solution to increase optical density. Higher coating holdout can be achieved through the use of a narrower coating particle size distribution, which is a technically difficult and expensive solution.
If PCC is present in the coating formulation, the inherent adsorptive properties of PCC particles towards ink dyes can offer another alternative to reduce the quantity of cationic additives necessary to ensure a given optical density. For an equal


quantity of this pigment, decreasing the primary PCC particle size increases the positively-charged pigment surface area available to interact with and bind ink dye. This promotes ink dye adsorption on the PCC particles near the site of ink application, which leads to an increase in optical density.
Segregation of large dye molecules on the paper surface is also aided by surface size exclusion and a high pore volume coating, allowing the passage of solvent into the base paper while retaining the dye molecules on the surface. This suggests the need for a porous coating formulation; one theoretical solution is therefore to introduce aggregates/agglomerates, such as possibly aggregated/agglomerated pigments, in the coating formulation, with a carefully controlled pore size distribution and capillarity. However, as the skilled man knows, such a theoretical solution is quite difficult to specifically engineer; in the specifically related domain, USP 5,750,086 (discussed herebelow) produces finely divided PCC, along with numerous other patents, but not porous products or aggregates/agglomerates.
A second challenge in increasing print quality is to reduce the bleeding phenomenon observed following ink application to the paper surface. Ink dye bleeding of one colour into another adjacent colour occurs as a result of latent ink dye binding to and drying on the paper surface, and is partly due to delayed ink solvent absorption into the base paper, which serves to bring the ink dye in contact with the surface for rapid binding. Bleeding has as a consequence that printed images are distorted and appear less sharp.
Similarly, feathering also results in blurred images and occurs when deposited ink follows the contours of the paper. As with ink bleeding, it is rectified by rapid ink drying, preferring dye absorption to adsorption when using porous media.
As the above implies, there is a need to balance and control ink adsorption onto the pigment surface as opposed to absorption into the void volume of pigment pores, since high absorption leads to decreased bleeding and feathering, but with an accompanying decrease in optical density, whereas high adsorption leads to improved optical density, while increasing bleeding and feathering.
A third challenge in obtaining a high print quality is to decrease the print unevenness in the final paper product. Print unevenness is the result of the inhomogeneous penetration of the ink-binding elements (cationic additive or coating pigment) of the coating formulation into the base paper. Coating formulations having a low solids content present an increased risk of solvent entraining the ink-binding elements away from the paper surface during two phenomena: as the formulation solvent passes into the base paper following paper coating and during the later movement of the solvent to the paper surface during drying. Such surface unevenness can be limited by using a slurry presenting a high solids content, which limits the quantity of solvent passing into and out of the base paper. However, such a high solids content in incompatible with some of the above objectives or theoretical solutions.
The above-listed constraints suggest the need for fixation of dyes on sites distributed homogeneously over the paper surface. It is clearly important that the coating


formulation be high in solids, however as is known in the art, upconcentration of aggregate-containing slurries often lead to a loss of important pore volume.
As such, the theoretical solutions to the above-listed problems were not recognized as able to solve the defined problems, and said list to the contrary suggests that they must be delicately weighted and that extremely difficult compromises, if not impossible ones, would have to be found; this was nevertheless one of the objectives of this invention, and it is the merit of the invention to have ultimately reached a global solution.
A second concern of the man skilled in the art is to achieve this balance employing a cost-efficient solution. Any skilled man will appreciate that such a requisite is always a factor highly complicating the definition of a technical solution, especially in the considered domain.
Known multipurpose inkjet papers are characterized by surface sized or slightly pigmented qualities and generally surface sized or coated on a cost-efficient on-line coater, such as the Metered Size Press (MSP) or Film Press, allowing a high coating application speed and coating a lower coat weight than their off-line-counterparts.
Speciality grade inkjet papers are characterized by a superior high- resolution print quality relative to multipurpose papers. Such papers are generally coated at a high coat weight with formulations including special high quality binders and additives via more costly coating techniques, employing for example Varibar™, airknife, curtain or blade off-line coaters.
Due to raw material cost, production rate, coating weight and composition and coater type, the cost of a known multipurpose inkjet paper is inferior to the cost of a high resolution matt inkjet paper by an order of magnitude which is roughly 6 to 20 times. Hence, the man skilled in the art recognises the benefits of being able to obtain a high quality paper coating using a low cost coating solution.
As mentioned above, lowering the cationic additive demand of the coating formulation, relative to current specialty pigments for inkjet, is also desirable for cost savings.
Further, it is of interest to reduce the quantity of binder needed, since this component represents an expensive part of the coating composition and its presence on the paper surface decreases the active area available to interact with ink. One option is to use aggregates/agglomerates presenting appropriately small pores, in which case only sufficient binder to adsorb onto the surface of the aggregates/agglomerates need be added, since the binder cannot attain the surface of the primary particles exposed within the pores. However, as indicated above, this proposal is uniquely theoretical.
As regards the paper coating process, cost reduction can be attained by promoting a more rapid paper drying step following coating. More rapid drying translates to a higher paper machine speed and increased productivity since the risk of wet coating


material deposits on the paper- making machine is reduce. More rapid drying is possible through the use of a maximum solids content coating formulation.
A high solids coating formulation also reduces the cost associated with transporting said coating formulation from the pigment manufacturer to the paper mill, respectively coating plant.
A final concern of the man skilled in the art is to ensure an equal or improved runnability (number of sheets produced without failure) on coating machines such as the Varibar or airknife. It is known that these coaters demonstrate an improved runnability when using an increased coating slurry solids content, while maintaining a low (500 to 1500 mPAs) slurry viscosity.
As the skilled man will appreciate, these are additional technical problems to be solved. The skilled man will also recognise that many of said problems call for conflicting or antagonist solutions, which lead to severe problems if not properly balanced; this was the difficult problem solved by this invention.
As mentioned above, the overall technical problem, and technical challenge, is to develop a novel class of PCC pigments structured to be used in a paper coating process to manufacture a paper which is "technically speaking" a coated high-quality matt paper, in particular for inkjet applications, but at lower cost relative to other coated papers of the same grade, while maintaining print quality.
Last but not least, the solution must of course fit to as many types of printers as possible, if not all, adding another complexity to resolve.
Any skilled person will recognize both the commercial need for such an innovative technology, the paramount technical challenge it represents, and the considerable technical, commercial and financial advance it would bring.
Prior Art
Pigment options for use in high quality inkjet paper coatings currently on the market include specialty PCC inkjet pigments, such as those of EP 0 815 174, or expensive fumed or precipitated silica.
Besides its considerable cost as a coating material, it is know that silica is generally limited to low solids coating formulation, whose use considerably reduces the coating line speed, further increasing to overall coating cost. The man skilled in the art is therefore motivated to seek lower cost coating alternatives available in higher solids formulations.
According to EP 0 815 174, which relates to coating a PCC, an organophosphonate compound, such as an amine-containing phosphoric acid or ethanol amine bis-(methylenephosphonic acid), is added to a PCC slurry in a quantity corresponding to 0.4 to 0.85% by weight relative to the weight of PCC. Said slurry is then heat aged over a sufficient time period (1 to 10 hours at a temperature exceeding 75°C, or 2 to 5 hours at 80 to 85°C) to impart a specific surface area exceeding 60 m2/g.


Alum or other inorganic, aluminium-containing compounds can be co- precipitated during the synthesis of PCC. In Example 1 of this patent, addition of aluminium sulphate octadecahydrate is performed just prior to the carbon dioxide introduction. Optionally, up to 10% by weight of hydrated aluminium sulphate can also be introduced.
The heat ageing and/or milling of the PCC are regarded as critical in order to reach an appropriate level of ink binding to the PCC.
To the contrary, as will be seen below, neither expensive, time-consuming heat ageing nor milling are required in the present invention; indeed, in the present invention, heat ageing even results in an inadmissible loss of PCC surface area.
EP1 246 729 is presented as an improvement over the above mentioned patent, and the product of this patent is said to feature a surface area of 60 to 65 m2/g, preferably 80 to 90 m2/g, and generally no more than 95 to 100 m2/g. That surface area is said to be obtained by heat ageing in the presence of an organophosphonate compound, as indicated above. The PCC particles are said to be individually spherical in shape, with a diameter of the order of 0.02 to 0.03 um. This high specific surface area PCC presenting a narrow particle size is obtained in a 25% solids slurry.
The alleged innovation in EP 1 246 729 comes from the combination of a finely divided PCC, presenting a surface area exceeding 60 m2/g, in a major proportion, and a minor proportion of a gel-type silica, along with a binder.
The resulting composition can be blade coated, or less preferably coated using an air knife and Meyer bar.
The required presence of expensive silica represents a major drawback in this patent.
USP 5,750,086 describes a process for manufacturing ultrafine particles of colloidal calcium carbonate (PCC), in which magnesium sulphate is added to a 3 to 14% by weight aqueous suspension of calcium hydroxide, followed by carbonation with the introduction of zinc sulphate alone or together with sulphuric acid.
In the examples, the introduced metal salts solutions or sulphuric acid have a concentration of 10 % by weight.
The process is said to lead to chain-structured ultrafine particles of colloidal calcium carbonate having an average diameter of 0.01 um of smaller, an average length of 0.05 um or smaller, and a BET specific surface area of 70 m2/g or greater.
The obtained ultrafine particles are said to "show lower affinity of aggregation". Indeed, the applicant primarily targets applications requiring non-aggregated fillers, such as plastic applications wherein the dispersibility of the end product is important. The present invention, by contrast, targets an aggregated/agglomerated product for inkjet paper applications.
The specific gas flow rate of 120 litres per minute per kilogram calcium hydroxide as indicated in the USP 5,750,086 examples, however, is quite significantly higher


compared to the process conditions of the present invention, as will be seen herebelow.
Indeed, it was found according to the present invention and contrary to the teaching of the prior art and common knowledge, that by decisively reducing the specific gas flow rate to below about 30 or below about 20 litres per minute per kilogram calcium hydroxide during precipitation, one obtains not the discrete pigment described in USP 5,750,086, but rather coarse mechanically stable porous spherical agglomerates/aggregates consisting of said colloidal calcium carbonate.
As mentioned above, while it was possible to theorize regarding the potential interest of porous PCC with an appropriate pore size distribution, possibly obtained via an agglomeration process, this remained theoretical until the above surprising innovation. It has also to be noted that there is no indication whatsoever in the prior art or in the common knowledge that altering one parameter among dozens in the PCC preparation process, would lead to porous agglomerates. There is even less indication that those agglomerates would be stable. There is still less indication that the, parameter to be modified was precisely said flow rate.
The process of USP 5,750,086 was reproduced with the above modification to the gas flow rate and the obtained product properties are shown in Table 2, Example 1.
As can be seen in Table 2, the product obtained by altering the teaching of USP 5,750,086 according to the invention is, quite surprisingly, not the discrete pigment described in USP 5,750,086, but rather coarse aggregates/agglomerates.
However, a problem with the slurry produced in Example 1 is the low solids content which is useful in many applications in the considered industries, but is not suitable for high quality paper coating. This represented an additional problem to be solved, as will be seen herebelow.
This surprising result is one of the key starting points of the present invention.
Additional prior art:
Japanese patent 2004 - 299302 teaches an inkjet record form featuring an "ink acceptance layer", said layer comprising calcium carbonate as a principal pigment, which leads to improved feathering and bleeding. There is no specific indication as to the properties or structure of said calcium carbonate to be used. This document instead focuses on the use of a dispersant and the cationic charge density of said dispersant.
EP 0 761 782, Japanese patent 10 - 265 725 and Japanese patent 2004 - 197 055 each describe improved inks for inkjet printing, namely used to improve optical density, bleeding and/or feathering upon printing. None of these patents give a specific indication as to the coating pigment to be used when preparing the paper sheet.
US 2003/0227 531 Al discloses a paper coating of a polyvalent metal salt, such as calcium, magnesium or aluminium onto one surface of the base paper, in order to improve feathering and bleeding.


Summary of the Invention
The objectives of the invention can only be fully reached by the combination of the specific process for preparing porous, stable, agglomerates of PCC, using a decisively reduced gas flow rate for the carbonation step, and of the selected upconcentration steps to produce a high solids PCC slurry suitable for inkjet paper coating applications.
It is briefly reminded here that PCC is generally obtained in the prior art via the following steps: a calcium hydroxide slurry at about 13 % solids is first prepared by slaking; calcium oxide (also referred to as burnt lime or quicklime) is mixed with water in a stirring reactor or tank. Said calcium hydroxide slurry is then screened, such as on a 100 um screen, to remove any residual impurities and/or non-reactive unburnt lime, and then directed towards a stainless steel reactor equipped with an agitator. The temperature is adjusted, generally to around 20°C, and then the slurry is directed towards the carbonation reactor or tank where carbon dioxide is bubbled through, optionally with air, precipitating PCC. The PCC slurry leaves the carbonation tank when appropriate in view of an appropriate drop in pH and/or conductivity.
The above is known to the skilled man, and the following patents are incorporated herein by reference: EP 0 768 344, WO 98/52870 (PCT/US98/09019) and WO 99/51691 (PCT/US99/07233).
Generally speaking, the present invention resides in a series of first steps (Steps A) leading to the production of a low solids PCC slurry, comprising essentially porous, stable, agglomerates/aggregates of PCC particles, followed by the upconcentration of said slurry (Steps B) without loss of said agglomerates/aggregates.
Steps A of the invention relate to a process for the preparation of porous, stable agglomerates/aggregates of PCC as a low solids slurry, and the so-obtained PCC product, which is a new industrial product.
The invention therefore covers a new process for producing a PCC slurry via the carbonation route, characterized in that the carbonation step is conducted with a carbonation gas flow rate decisively reduced to below 30 litres per minute at standard temperature and pressure per kilogram calcium hydroxide during precipitation (Steps A).
The present invention also covers a new process for producing a PCC slurry via the carbonation route, additionally characterized in that the production of PCC as described in the above paragraph is conducted in the presence of magnesium sulphate, in combination with one or more group II or III metal sulphates, said metal sulphate(s) being in particular aluminium based and/or zinc based, preferably aluminium based or zinc based. These steps are based on those described in USP 5,750,086,, however with the much lower carbonation gas flow rate as mentioned above.
The surprising result is that the pigment obtained is not a non- agglomerating, ultrafine particular, discrete product, but rather coarse (1 to 5 um range) porous and stable agglomerates/aggregates.


The produced agglomerates/aggregates are surprisingly so stable that they are substantially maintained in agglomerated/aggregated form during a subsequent "upconcentration" step, and astonishingly the finally produced PCC agglomerates/aggregates impart equal print properties when incorporated in high-quality matt inkjet paper coatings, as compared to the print quality of other market papers of higher production cost.
In most preferred embodiments, Steps A of the present invention are additionally characterized by the use of the inventive combination of magnesium sulphate and aluminium sulphate, or magnesium sulphate and zinc sulphate.
In less preferred embodiments, the process of the invention uses the combination of magnesium sulphate and zinc sulphate, to which is added aluminium sulphate, or the combination of magnesium sulphate and aluminium sulphate, to which is added zinc sulphate. Further, a less preferred embodiment includes the use of magnesium sulphate and one or more sulphates of group II and/or III metals.
The invention additionally lies in the combination of the PCC production process (Steps A), with subsequent particular upconcentration (dewatering/redispersion) steps without dispersant or in the presence of a cationic dispersant (Steps B).
It is entirely innovative to use the combination: PCC production (Steps A) with the upconcentration process (Steps B) for this type of inkjet application.
The final product is, quite surprisingly, a PCC in the form of stable agglomerates/aggregates having an average diameter in the um range, namely between 1 and 5 um, forming a PCC pigment which, when used in a standard high quality matt inkjet coating formulation, leads to a equal or similar print qualities at reduced cost.
The invention also covers novel PCC pigments per se, as new industrial products, in the form of stable agglomerates/aggregates in the um range, namely between 1 and 5 um, as obtained at the end of Steps A or at the end of Steps A and B. This is entirely different from the commercial technologies and prior patents.
The invention also covers the novel pigment slurries containing said pigments as new industrial products, namely the low solids slurry obtained at the end of Steps A and the high solids slurry obtained at the end of Steps A and B.
The invention additionally covers novel coating formulations for coating ink jet paper containing said pigments or pigment slurries
The invention also covers coated ink jet papers, coated with such novel coating formulations.
Detailed description of the invention
The invention relates to:
- a process for providing PCC useful for ink-jet printing applications,
- of the type according to which a calcium hydroxide slurry is first prepared by mixing quicklime (CaO) with water in a stirring reactor or tank ("slake"). The


calcium hydroxide slurry is then screened, such as on a 100 um screen, to remove any residual impurities and/or non-reactive unburnt lime. The screened slurry is then directed towards a stainless steel reactor equipped with an agitator; the temperature is adjusted, generally to between 10 and 70°C, and subsequently the slurry is directed towards a carbonation reactor or tank, wherein carbon dioxide-containing gas is bubbled through the slurry. The slurry exits the carbonation tank when appropriate in view of conductivity and pH, generally when the conductivity reaches a minimum and the pH drops below 8. Coarse particles are removed on a screen, such as a 45 um screen, such that the slurry contains only the ultrafine PCC agglomerates of the invention,
- characterized by the implementation of process steps comprising a series of first steps, relating to the production of the PCC in which:
Al In a PCC production process as described above, the carbonation step is performed at a carbonation gas flow rate of below 30 litres per minute at standard temperature and pressure per kilogram calcium hydroxide during precipitation.
The invention also relates to a process as above, in which:
A2 In a PCC production process as described above under Al or A2, the slurry of calcium hydroxide leaving said stainless steel reactor after said separation of said residual impurities and/ or non-reactive unburnt lime is treated by a combination of magnesium sulphate and Group II and/or Group III metal sulphates, most preferably in the presence of an acid, said acid being most preferably sulphuric acid, until stable, porous agglomerates/aggregates are obtained at a concentration of 5 to 25% solids, preferably 15 to 20% solids ("precursor").
The invention also relates to a process as above, in which:
A3 In a PCC production process as described above under Al, A2 or A3, the slurry of calcium hydroxide is first prepared by mixing quicklime with water in a stirring reactor or tank ("slake") in a weight ratio of CaO:water between 1:3 and 1:20, preferably between 1:5 and 1:12, most preferably between 1:7 and 1 :10.
The invention also relates to a process as above, in which:
A4 In a PCC production process as described above under Al, the temperature is preferably adjusted to between 15 and 50°C, most preferably to between 15 and 30°C, before the slurry is directed towards the carbonation reactor or tank.
These steps are schematically shown on attached Fig. 1. On said figure, the references have the following meanings:
I: Water
II: Quicklime
III: Reactor, such as a stirred reactor or tank
IV: Screen, such as a 100 um screen
V: Residual Impurities and/or Non-reactive unburnt Lime
VI: Calcium Hydroxide Slurry
VII: Reactor, such as a carbonation reactor or tank
VIII: Magnesium Sulphate Solution


IX: Group II and/or Group III Metal Sulphate(s)
X: Acid, such as sulphuric acid
XI: Carbon Dioxide-Containing Gas
XII: Screen, such as a 45 um screen
XIII: Coarse Particles
XIV: Invention PCC (in a porous, agglomerated form) Slurry
Steps A are followed by the upconcentration of the PCC produced during Steps A, without dispersant or in the presence of cationic dispersant, under sufficiently gentle or mild conditions for the aggregates/agglomerates not to be substantially destroyed, until a concentration of 15 to 50%, preferably in the range 20 to 30%, most preferably 23 to 26% solids by weight is reached. The amount of any cationic dispersant added is controlled so that the PCC agglomerates/aggregates of the precursor are just coated, this quantity corresponding that added prior to a slurry viscosity increase.
If the upconcentration leads to a filter cake, such as following upconcentration performed using a pressurized filter, or a centrifuge, or by vacuum filtration, the concentrated material is optionally washed with water and a redispersion is performed until the final material substantially consists of stable, porous agglomerates/aggregates identical with or very similar to those obtained in Steps A.
The upconcentration can be performed in a thermal evaporation step with the final material substantially remaining in the form of the stable, porous agglomerates/aggregates obtained in Steps A.
The upconcentration of part or all of the precursor may lead to a dry product, and in such a case, the dry product is redispersed until the final material substantially consists of stable, porous agglomerates/aggregates identical with or very similar to those obtained in Steps A.
Fig. 2 represents a dewatering process in a centrifuge, with:
I: PCC slurry from Steps A
II: Dewatering centrifuge
III: Filtrate
IV: Filter Cake
V: Dispersing Unit
VI: Optional Addition of a Solution of a Cationic Dispersing Aid
VII: Upconcentrated PCC Slurry
Fig. 3 represents an alternate dewatering process in a centrifuge, with:
I: PCC slurry from Steps A
II: Dewatering centrifuge
III: Filtrate
IV: Filter Cake
V: Dispersing Unit
VI: Optional Addition of a Solution of a Cationic Dispersing Aid
VII: Upconcentrated PCC Slurry


Fig 4 represents a thermal upconcentration step under vacuum, with:
I: PCC slurry from Steps A
II: Thermal Evaporator
III: Upconcentrated PCC Slurry
Fig 5 represents a thermal upconcentration on a heating plate, with:
I: PCC slurry from Steps A
II: Heating Plate
III: Optional Addition of a Solution of a Cationic Dispersing Aid
IV: Upconcentrated PCC Slurry
The following are optional and/or preferred features in Steps A, to be taken alone or in combination.
The carbonation gas flow rate is preferably selected in the range of 1 to 30, preferably 10 to 20, most preferably around 19.7 litres per minute at standard temperature and pressure per kilogram calcium hydroxide during precipitation. Said carbonation gas is CO2 or a mixture of CO2 and one or more other gases, such as air and/or nitrogen.
The slurry of calcium hydroxide is most preferably treated by a combination of magnesium sulphate and aluminium sulphate, or a combination of magnesium sulphate and zinc sulphate.
According to less preferred options, zinc sulphate can be added to the combination of magnesium sulphate and aluminium sulphate, or aluminium sulphate can be added to the combination of magnesium sulphate and zinc sulphate.
The addition of magnesium sulphate is most preferably performed before carbonation. Magnesium sulphate can be added, in a less preferred option, either before the addition of other sulphates or during that addition. In a second, less preferred option, magnesium sulphate can be added during carbonation along with aluminium and/or zinc sulphate. As a least preferred option of the invention, magnesium sulphate can be added during carbonation or just at the beginning of carbonation.
The addition of aluminium sulphate and/or zinc sulphate most preferably takes place over the period of carbonation.
The addition of the acid, namely sulphuric acid, most preferably in the form of a 10% by weight solution of sulphuric acid, takes place preferably at the beginning of the carbonation. Most preferably, however, the addition of sulphuric acid takes place simultaneously with the addition of aluminium sulphate or zinc sulphate.
Without being bound by any theory, the applicant is of the opinion that in the present invention, the presence, as described below, of sulphuric acid is necessary for achieving proper results.
In all the above options, sulphates of Group II and/or III can be added in addition to aluminium sulphate and/or zinc sulphate, or as a substitute for aluminium sulphate and/or zinc sulphate.


The temperature in the carbonation tank is observed to rise up to between 40 and 80°C, preferably up to between 50 and 60°C, most preferably up to between 56 and
570C.
Removal of residual impurities and/or non-reactive unburnt lime takes place on a 45 urn mesh screen when the Brookfield viscosity of the material exiting from the carbonation tank is sufficiently low, namely less than 100 mPas at 100 rpm.
The final slurry product substantially consists of stable, porous agglomerates/ aggregates.
The following are optional and/or preferred features in Steps B, to be taken alone or in combination.
By "deagglomeration/deaggregation" it is meant that the agglomerates/aggregates obtained at the end of Steps A by the specific process of the invention are disintegrated, the disintegrated product being ultrafine PCC of the same kind (with the exception of the contained or deposited metal salts) as the one obtained in USP '
086.
By "gentle or mild conditions" it is meant that the deagglomeration/deaggregation of the agglomerates/aggregates is kept to a minimum, so that said agglomerates/aggregates are not "substantially destroyed". More precisely, this means that it is most preferred that during the upconcentration steps, the increase in the fraction of particles below 2 um is limited to less than 30%, preferably less than 20%, most preferably less than 10%, and/or the decrease of the mean aggregate diameter is limited to less than 20%, preferably less than 15%, most preferably less than 10%, as measured according to the means described below.
SEM images before and after upconcentration are substantially identical which means that the existing agglomerates/aggregates (as obtained in Step A "precursor") are not noticeably altered during upconcentration.
The upconcentration step can be performed in the form of any thermal or mechanical separation technology for solid/liquid suspensions provided the aggregates/agglomerates obtained in Steps A ("precursor") are sufficiently stable and are not "substantially destroyed" by said technology.
During the upconcentration process, a common cationic dispersant may be added in the customary proportions, in order to increase the slurry solids content without overly increasing the viscosity of the slurry. The amount of any cationic dispersant added is controlled so that the PCC agglomerates/aggregates of the precursor are just coated, this quantity corresponding that added prior to a slurry viscosity increase. For example, approximately 3 to 15% w/w of a 20% solution of a cationic copolymer, such as a cationic copolymer of [2-(methacryloyloxy)ethyl] trimethyl ammonium chloride and [3-(methacrylamido)propyl]trimethyl ammonium chloride, to dry calcium carbonate is added to the slurry containing the pigment of the invention, corresponding to approximately 0.6 to 3% weight dry cationic dispersant on dry calcium carbonate.


Most preferably, upconcentrations with a cationic dispersant or without dispersant are by vacuum filtration or by thermal upconcentration or by centrifuge or by pressurised filter.
A degree of destruction of the agglomerates/aggregates was expected. Such pigment aggregates/agglomerates are often held together by relatively weak Van der Waals or electrostatic attractive forces, which are surpassed by the centrifugal and/ or shear forces created within the equipment associated with commercial upconcentration, namely within the centrifuge, fast-rotating decanter or high pressure filter press. The result that no noticeable destruction of aggregates/agglomerates is observed while fully achieving the degree of required upconcentration is therefore entirely not obvious.
The present invention covers the stable, porous aggregates/agglomerates of PCC produced at the end of Steps A alone ("precursor"), and the final stable, porous aggregates/agglomerates of PCC, as obtained by the above processes, at the end of Steps A in combination with Steps B, said PCC featuring quite innovative properties which in turn make it of particular value for ink-jet applications.
The stable, porous aggregates/agglomerates of PCC obtained at the end of Steps A as well as those obtained after the upconcentration Steps B can be characterized by a selection of the following: a specific surface area of 30 to 100 m2/g, preferably 50 to 80 m2/g, and/or a mean aggregate diameter of 1 to 5 um, with an average diameter of 2 um, and/or a fraction of fines below 2 um of less than 20%, preferably of less than 15%, and/or a primary acicular particle size of 20 to 50 nm, with an aspect ratio between 1 :2 and 1 :10„ and/or a solids content, by weight from 5 to 25%, preferably 15 to 20% at the end of Steps A, and a solids content of 15 to 50%, preferably 20 to 30% solids, in particular 23 to 26% solids at the end of Steps B.
The final slurry concentration may be partially or wholly obtained by the addition of one or more additional pigments or pigment slurries during Steps B.
The invention covers the novel pigments characterized in that they comprise stable, porous PCC aggregates/agglomerates as described herein, and novel pigment or PCC slurries characterized in that they comprise stable, porous PCC aggregates/agglomerates as described herein.
The invention also covers novel pigments and PCC slurries characterized in that their solids concentration is, by weight, from 5 to 25%, preferably 15 to 20% solids at the end of Steps A, and from 15 to 50%, preferably 20 to 30% solids, in particular 23 to 26% solids at the end of Steps B.
According to a preferred embodiment, the functional pigment or pigment slurry with a high surface area and integrated cations, is incorporated in the coating formulation in a way known to the skilled man, in order to increase namely the optical density upon printing without an increase in bleeding or feathering: this is one of the major achievements of the invention.


The invention therefore also covers novel coating formulations for the paper making industry characterized in that they comprise novel aggregates/agglomerates of PCC, novel pigments and/or novel slurries described herein.
The invention also covers coating formulations as described herein characterized in that the PCC slurry which it contains features the following properties: a solids content of 15 to 50%, preferably 20 to 30% solids, in particular 23 to 26%, and/or a high surface area PCC, namely featuring a specific surface area of 30 to 100 m2/g, preferably 50 to 80 m2/g.
The invention also covers the applications of the coating formulations according to any of claims 19 or 20 relating to the coating of inkjet paper, namely to the coating of "multipurpose" inkjet paper or of specialty, high quality, paper.
To sum up, the most preferred (according to its best mode as of this date) invention relies on the selection of a reduced carbonation gas flow rate during the precipitation of the PCC, the specific combination of cations introduced in the PCC crystal lattice during PCC synthesis, the use of a high solids coating slurry, upconcentrated with dispersant to 15 to 50%, preferably 20 to 30%, in particular around 23 to 26% by weight, in particular for use in paper coatings to be coated on Varibar, airknife or blade off-line coaters, the use a high surface area PCC in the range of 30 to 100 m2/g, preferably 50 to 80 m2/g at the end of Steps A and at the end of Steps B, the use of small diameter PCC primary crystals, agglomerated/aggregated to form a porous PCC agglomerate.
As surface area is a function of particle size distribution, this distribution will have to be set accordingly.
The resulting functional pigment surface chemistry ensures an increased ink dye fixation and increased pigment surface area resulting in increased optical density, or a lower cationic additive demand in coating formulation for an equal optical density. No increase or even a decrease in bleeding and/or feathering relative to commercial alternatives is observed.
The possibility of obtaining a high solids content slurry with the invention pigment leads to better runnability when incorporated in a paper coating formulation and coated on base paper. The high solids content leads to less drying energy demand and easier and faster drying; a higher paper machine speed is possible without an increase in deposits on the rolls in paper machine after-drying section.
The invention leads to a high solids content coating slurry meaning that less energy must be introduced during the drying step, thereby reducing the cost.
Further the use of the inventive aggregates/agglomerates limits the quantity of binder needed, thereby limiting cost.
Because the invention will favour agglomerates/aggregates, the applications will be limited to matt inkjet paper applications. The invention agglomerates/aggregates are too coarse to obtain a glossy finish.


Various processes of the invention will be better understood through the following description and the following non-limiting examples.
EXAMPLES:
Examples of preparations of the innovative inkjet pigment and pigment data for the corresponding products:
Examples 1, 5, 7 and 10 were prepared according to Steps A of the invention. Examples 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9,11 and 12 were upconcentrations of one of Examples 1, 5, 7 and 10, upconcentrated according to the invention (Steps B).
Example 1:
Process of the invention. Steps A with magnesium sulphate and zinc sulphate;
150 kg of quicklime were added to 1300 litres of tap water in a stirred reactor. Before lime addition the water temperature was adjusted to 40°C.
The quicklime was slaked for 25 minutes under continuous stirring and the resulting slurry of calcium hydroxide ("milk of lime") at 13.1% w/w solids was then screened on a 100 um screen.
The calcium carbonate precipitation was conducted to a 1000 litre, baffled cylindrical stainless steel reactor equipped with an gasing agitator having a gas dispersion unit, a stainless steel carbonation tube to direct a carbon dioxide/air gas stream to the impeller, and probes for monitoring the pH and conductivity of the suspension.
700 litres of the calcium hydroxide suspension obtained in the slaking step as stated above were added to the carbonating reactor and the temperature of the reaction mixture was adjusted to the desired starting temperature of 20°C.
Prior to carbonation, 30 kg of 10% w/w aqueous solution of magnesium sulphate (MgS04.7H20) was added to the milk of lime.
The agitator was then adjusted to 1480 rpm, and the slurry was carbonated by passing a gas mixture of 26 volume percent carbon dioxide in air at 118 Nm3/h, corresponding to 19.7 litres per minute at standard temperature and pressure per kilogram of calcium hydroxide, through the slurry. During carbonation, 100 kg of 10% w/w aqueous solution of zinc sulphate (ZnS04.7H20) and 30 kg of 10% w/w aqueous solution of sulphuric acid were added to the reaction mixture in a continuous manner over the total carbonation time.
Completion of carbonation was reached after 1 hour, 55 minutes reaction time and indicated by a drop in conductivity to a minimum accompanied by a drop in pH to a constant value below 8.0.
During carbonation, the slurry temperature was allowed to rise due to the exothermic nature of the reaction to a final slurry temperature of 57°C.
The residual impurities and/or non-reactive unburnt lime was then removed by passing the aqueous slurry through a 45 um screen.


The product of the above carbonation was an aqueous suspension of 15.6% w/w solids content of ultrafine primary calcium carbonate particles bound together to form stable porous spherical aggregates.
The single crystals as constituents of the aggregates featured a particle diameter of 20 to 50 nm and an aspect ratio between 1 :2 and 1 :10 according to SEM pictures. The porous aggregates formed from these single crystals showed diameters between 1 to 5 um, with an average diameter of 2 um, also according to SEM pictures.
Pigment data of the product obtained in the process described above are listed as Example 1 in Table 2.
The table results for Example 1 confirm the high aggregate surface area and appropriate aggregate dimensions, but an insufficient solids content for subsequent coating applications. Indeed, the results of a coating trial with a low solids formulation run according to the general coating conditions described hereafter, demonstrate that for an equal solids addition per paper surface area, coating with a lower solids formulation leads to a decrease in optical density (Table 1).
It is therefore necessary to upconcentrate without a noticeable loss or degradation of aggregates.
Table 1: Effect of total slurry solids content on 100% black optical density









Example 2:
Process of the invention, upconcentration (Steps B) of the product of Example 1
2210 g of the precipitated calcium carbonate slurry obtained according to process Steps A as described in Example 1 were cooled to 25°C and dewatered in Steps B using a pressurized filter.
One obtains a filter cake of about 43% w/w solids.
The filtrate was collected and used for redispersion of the filter cake.
50 g of filtrate obtained in dewatering step as described above was added in a 1 litre dispersing unit equipped with an impeller and redispersed without the use of any dispersant.
Into this mixture, the filtercake having 57% w/w residual moisture content, as obtained in dewatering step described above, was added stepwise into the dispersing unit under continuous mixing.


After each addition of filter cake and subsequent homogenization, the slurry Brookfield viscosity at 100 rpm was determined. The addition of filter cake was stopped when the Brookfield viscosity reached a defined maximum limit of approximately 1000 mPas.
At this point 97 g of filter cake had been added.
The product of the upconcentration process described above was an aqueous suspension with 28.4% w/w solids content ultrafine primary calcium carbonate particles bound together to form stable porous spherical aggregates of 1 to 5 um.
The crystalline structure of the product was determined by SEM pictures.
Pigment data of the product obtained in the process described above are listed as Example 2 in Table 2.
From these data it can be seen that the obtained pigment features a high BET specific surface area value, which shows that one has obtained the high surface needed to interact and bind the ink, along with appropriate aggregate dimensions (1 to 2 um according to SEM) and yellowing index.
The final product additionally features a sufficient solids content for subsequent ink jet paper coating applications.
Example 3:
Process of the invention, upconcentration (Steps B) of the product of Example 1
2210 g of the precipitated calcium carbonate slurry obtained according to the process described in Example 1 were cooled to 25°C and dewatered using a pressurized filter. The filtrate was collected and used for later redispersion of filtercake.
30 g of filtrate obtained in dewatering step as described above was added to a 1 litre dispersing unit equipped with an impeller and redispersed without the use of any dispersant.
Into this mixture, filtercake having residual moisture of 36.4% w/w obtained in dewatering step described above was added stepwise to the dispersing unit under continuous mixing. After each addition of filter cake and subsequent homogenization, the slurry Brookfield viscosity at 100 rpm was determined. The addition of filter cake was stopped when the Brookfield viscosity reached a defined maximum limit of approximately 1000 mPas.
At this moment 49 g of filter cake had been added.
The product of the upconcentration process described above was an aqueous suspension with 22.5% w/w solids content of ultrafine primary calcium carbonate particles bound together to form stable porous spherical aggregates.
The crystalline structure of the product was determined by SEM pictures.
Pigment data of the product obtained in the process described above are listed as Example 3 in Table 2.
The results call for the same comments as in Example 2.

Example 4:
Process of the invention, PCC production (Step A, option magnesium sulphate
and zinc sulphate) and upconcentration (Steps B)
150 kg of quicklime were added to 1300 litres of tap water in a stirred reactor. Before lime addition, the water temperature was adjusted to 40° C.
The quicklime was slaked for 25 minutes under continuous stirring and the resulting slurry of calcium hydroxide ("milk of lime") at 12.8% w/w solids was then screened on a 100 um screen.
The calcium carbonate precipitation was conducted to a 1000 litre baffled cylindrical stainless steel reactor equipped with an gasing agitator having a gas dispersion unit, a stainless steel carbonation tube to direct a carbon dioxide/air gas stream to the impeller, and probes for monitoring the pH and conductivity of the suspension.
700 litres of the calcium hydroxide suspension obtained in the slaking step as stated above were added to the carbonating reactor and the temperature of the reaction mixture was adjusted to the desired starting temperature of 20°C.
Before the start of carbonation, 30 kg of 10% w/w aqueous solution of magnesium sulphate (MgS04.7H20) was added to the milk of lime.
The agitator was then adjusted to 1480 rpm, and the slurry was carbonated by passing a gas mixture of 26 volume percent carbon dioxide in air at 118 Nm3/h, corresponding to 19.7 litres per minute at standard temperature and pressure per kilogram of calcium hydroxide, through the slurry.
During carbonation 100 kg of 10% w/w aqueous solution of zinc sulphate (ZnSQi.7H20) and 30 kg of 10% w/w aqueous solution of sulphuric acid were added continuously over total carbonation time to the reaction mixture.
Completion of carbonation was reached after 1 hour, 50 minutes reaction time and indicated by a drop in conductivity to a minimum accompanied by a drop in pH to a constant value below 8.0.
During carbonation slurry temperature was allowed to rise resulting in a final slurry temperature of 58°C due to the heat generated during the exothermic reaction.
Upconcentration step:
The slurry was then screened on a 45 um screen before being fed to a dewatering centrifuge (operating at 4440 rpm) at a rate of 350 1/h. No dispersant was added to the resulting filter cake. This filter cake was collected and then redispersed in a mixing unit and the upconcentrated product was recovered as an aqueous slurry of the pigment.
Product of the carbonation and upconcentration steps as stated above was an aqueous suspension of 19.5% w/w solids content of ultrafine primary calcium carbonate particles bound together to form stable porous spherical aggregates. The single crystals as constituents of the aggregates had acicular particle shape with a diameter of 20 to 50 nm and aspect ratios between 1:2 and 1:10. The porous

aggregates formed from these single crystals showed diameters between 1 and 5 urn, with an average diameter of 2 um.
The crystalline structure of the product was determined by SEM pictures.
Pigment data of the product obtained in the process described above are listed as Example 4 in Table 2.
The results call for the same comments as Examples 2 and 3.
Example 5:
Process of the invention. Steps A, option magnesium sulphate and aluminium
sulphate;
115 kg of quicklime were added to 1000 litres of tap water in a stirred reactor. Before lime addition the water temperature was adjusted to 40°C.
The quicklime was slaked for 25 minutes under continuous stirring and the resulting slurry of calcium hydroxide ("milk of lime") at 12.7% w/w solids was then screened on a 100 um screen.
The calcium carbonate precipitate was conducted in a 1000 litre baffled cylindrical stainless steel reactor equipped with an gasing agitator having a gas dispersion unit, a stainless steel carbonation tube to direct a carbon dioxide/air gas stream to the impeller, and probes for monitoring the pH and conductivity of the suspension.
700 litres of the calcium hydroxide suspension obtained in the slaking step as stated above were added to the carbonating reactor and the temperature of the reaction mixture was adjusted to the desired starting temperature of 20°C.
Before the start of carbonation, 30 kg of 10% w/w aqueous solution of magnesium sulphate (MgS04.7H20) was added to the milk of lime.
The agitator was then adjusted to 1480 rpm, and the slurry was carbonated by passing a gas mixture of 26 volume percent carbon dioxide in air at 118 Nm3/h, corresponding to 19.7 litres per minute at standard temperature and pressure per kilogram of calcium hydroxide, through the slurry.
During carbonation, 100 kg of 10% w/w aqueous solution of aluminium sulphate (Al2(S04)3.18H20) and 30 kg of 10% w/w aqueous solution of sulphuric acid were added continuously to the reaction mixture over the total carbonation time.
Completion of carbonation was reached after 1 hour, 48 minutes reaction time and indicated by a drop in conductivity to a minimum accompanied by a drop in pH to a constant value below 8.0.
During carbonation, the slurry temperature was allowed to rise resulting in a final slurry temperature of 61°C due to the heat generated during the exothermic reaction.
The slurry was then screened on a 45 um screen and the product recovered as an aqueous slurry of the pigment.

The product of the carbonation step described above was an aqueous suspension with 14.3% w/w solids content of ultrafine primary calcium carbonate particles bound together to form stable porous spherical aggregates.
The single crystals as constituents of the aggregates featured acicular particle shapes with a diameter of 20 to 50 nm and aspect ratios between 1:2 and 1:10.
The porous aggregates formed from these single crystals showed diameters between 1 to 5 um, with an average diameter of 2 um.
The crystalline structure of the product was determined by SEM pictures.
Pigment data of the product obtained in the process described above are listed as Example 5 in Table 2.
Example 6:
Process of the invention, upconcentration (Steps B) of the product of Example 5
10 litres of the precipitated calcium carbonate slurry obtained according to process described in Example 5 were screened on a 45 um screen prior to being fed to a thermal evaporator. The evaporator consisted of a cylindrical stainless steel vessel equipped with an agitator and a double mantle heating unit operating with 120°C hot synthetic oil as heating media.
Prior to evaporation 194 g of a 20% solution of a cationic copolymer of [2-(methacryloyloxy)ethyl]trimethyl ammonium chloride and of [3-(methacrylamido)propyl]trimethyl ammonium chloride, along with 10.8 g of Hydroxy Ethyl Cellulose (HEC, Tylose H6000YP2, an anti-settling agent from Clariant ™) was added to the precipitated calcium carbonate slurry and mixed in.
Thermal upconcentration was achieved through evaporation in said lab evaporator under atmospheric pressure at slurry temperatures ranging from 90 to 95°C.
The evaporation was stopped when the Brookfield viscosity reached defined maximum limit of approximately 1000 mPas.
The product of the upconcentration process described above was an aqueous suspension with 23.8% w/w solids content of ultrafine primary calcium carbonate particles, bound together to form stable porous spherical aggregates.
The crystalline structure of the product was determined by SEM pictures.
Pigment data of the product obtained in the process described above are listed as Example 6 in Table 2.
Example 7:
Process of the invention. Steps A (option magnesium sulphate and zinc sulphate):
115 kg of quicklime were added to 1000 litres of tap water in a stirred reactor. Before lime addition the water temperature was adjusted to 40°C


The quicklime was slaked for 25 minutes under continuous stirring and the resulting slurry of calcium hydroxide ("milk of lime") at 12.5% w/w solids was then screened on a 100 um screen.
The calcium carbonate precipitate was conducted to a 1000 litre baffled cylindrical stainless steel reactor equipped with an gasing agitator having a gas dispersion unit, a stainless steel carbonation tube to direct a carbon dioxide/ air gas stream to the impeller, and probes for monitoring the pH and conductivity of the suspension.
700 litres of the calcium hydroxide suspension obtained in the slaking step as stated above were added to the carbonating reactor and the temperature of the reaction mixture was adjusted to the desired starting temperature of 20°C.
Before the start of carbonation, 30 kg of 10% w/w aqueous solution of magnesium sulphate (MgS04.7H20) was added to the milk of lime.
The agitator was then adjusted to 1480 rpm, and the slurry was carbonated by passing a gas mixture of 26 volume percent carbon dioxide in air at 118 Nm3/h, corresponding to 19.7 litres per minute at standard temperature and pressure per kilogram of calcium hydroxide, through the slurry.
During carbonation, 100 kg of 10% w/w aqueous solution of zinc sulphate (ZnS04.7H20) and 30 kg of 10% w/w aqueous solution of sulphuric acid were added continuously to the reaction mixture over the total carbonation time.
Completion of carbonation was reached after 1 hour, 43 minutes reaction time and indicated by a drop in conductivity to a minimum accompanied by a drop in pH to a constant value below 8.0.
During carbonation, the slurry temperature was allowed to rise resulting in a final slurry temperature of 62°C due to the heat generated during the exothermic reaction.
The slurry was then screened on a 45 um screen and the product recovered as an aqueous slurry of the pigment.
The product of the carbonation step described above was an aqueous suspension with 13.7% w/w solids content of ultrafine primary calcium carbonate particles bound together to form stable porous spherical aggregates.
The single crystals as constituents of the aggregates featured acicular particle shapes with a diameter of 20 to 50 nm and aspect ratios between 1:2 and 1:10.
The porous aggregates formed from these single crystals showed diameters between 1 and 5 um, with an average diameter of 2 um.
The crystalline structure of the product was determined by SEM pictures.
Pigment data of the product obtained in the process described above are listed as Example 7 in Table 2.
These results call for the same comments as for Example 1.


Example 8:
Process of the invention, upconcentration (Steps B) of the product of Example 7
10 litres of the precipitated calcium carbonate slurry obtained according to the process described in Example 7 were screened on a 45 um screen prior to being fed to a thermal evaporator. The evaporator consisted of a cylindrical stainless steel vessel equipped with an agitator and a double mantle heating unit operating with 120°C hot synthetic oil as heating media.
Thermal upconcentration was achieved without dispersant through evaporation in said lab evaporator under atmospheric pressure at slurry temperatures ranging from 90 to 95°C.
The evaporation was stopped when the Brookfield viscosity reached a defined maximum limit of approximately 1000 mPas.
The product of the upconcentration process described above was an aqueous suspension with 27.1% w/w solids content of ultrafine primary calcium carbonate particles, bound together to form stable porous spherical aggregates.
The crystalline structure of the product was determined by SEM pictures.
Pigment data of the product obtained in the process described above are listed as Example 8 in Table 2.
Example 9:
Process of the invention, PCC production (Step A. option magnesium sulphate
and zinc sulphate) and upconcentration (Steps B)
115 kg of quicklime were added to 1000 litres of tap water in a stirred reactor. Before lime addition, the water temperature was adjusted to 40° C.
The quicklime was slaked for 25 minutes under continuous stirring and the resulting slurry of calcium hydroxide ("milk of lime") at 13.5% w/w solids was then screened on a 100 um screen.
The calcium carbonate precipitation was conducted to a 1000 litre baffled cylindrical stainless steel reactor equipped with an gasing agitator featuring a gas dispersion unit, a stainless steel carbonation tube to direct a carbon dioxide/air gas stream to the impeller, and probes for monitoring the pH and conductivity of the suspension.
700 litres of the calcium hydroxide suspension obtained in the slaking step as stated above, were added to the carbonating reactor and the temperature of the reaction mixture was adjusted to the desired starting temperature of 20°C.
Before the start of carbonation, 30 kg of 10% w/w aqueous solution of magnesium sulphate (MgS04.7H20) was added to the milk of lime.
The agitator was then adjusted to 1480 rpm, and the slurry was carbonated by passing a gas mixture of 26 volume percent carbon dioxide in air at 118 Nm3/h, corresponding to 19.7 litres per minute at standard temperature and pressure per kilogram of calcium hydroxide, through the slurry. During carbonation, 100 kg of


10% w/w aqueous solution of zinc sulphate (ZnS04.7H20) and 30 kg of 10% w/w aqueous solution of sulphuric acid were added continuously to the reaction mixture over the total carbonation time.
Completion of carbonation was reached after 1 hour, 44 minutes reaction time and indicated by a drop in conductivity to a minimum accompanied by a drop in pH to a constant value below 8.0.
During carbonation, the slurry temperature was allowed to rise resulting in a final slurry temperature of 56°C due to heat generated during the exothermic reaction.
The slurry was then screened on a 45 um screen.
Upconcentration step:
The screened slurry was then fed at a rate of 400 1/h to a dewatering centrifuge operating at 4440 rpm. No dispersant was added to the upconcentrated filtercake discharged by the dewatering centrifuge.
The mixture was then redispersed in a mixing unit and the upconcentrated product was recovered as an aqueous slurry of the pigment.
The product of the carbonation and upconcentration steps described above was an aqueous suspension with 24.9% w/w solids content of ultrafine primary calcium carbonate particles, bound together to form stable porous spherical aggregates. The single crystals as constituents of the aggregates had acicular particle shape with a diameter of 20 to 50 nm and aspect ratios between 1:2 and 1:10. The porous aggregates formed from these single crystals showed diameters between 1 and 5 um with an average diameter of 2 um.
The crystalline structure of the product was determined by SEM pictures.
Pigment data of the product obtained in the process described above are listed as Example 9 in Table 2.
Example 10:
Process of the invention, PCC production (Step A, option magnesium sulphate
and aluminium sulphate)
150 kg of quicklime were added to 1300 litres of tap water in a stirred reactor. Before lime addition the water temperature was adjusted to 40°C.
The quicklime was slaked for 25 minutes under continuous stirring and the resulting slurry of calcium hydroxide ("milk of lime") at 12,9% w/w solids was then screened on a 100 um screen.
The calcium carbonate precipitation was conducted in a 1000 litre baffled cylindrical stainless steel reactor equipped with an gasing agitator having a gas dispersion unit, a stainless steel carbonation tube to direct a carbon dioxide/air gas stream to the impeller and probes for monitoring the pH and conductivity of the suspension.


700 litres of the calcium hydroxide suspension obtained in the slaking step as stated above were added to the carbonating reactor and the temperature of the reaction mixture was adjusted to the desired starting temperature of 20°C.
Before start of carbonation 30 kg of 10% w/w aqueous solution of MgS04.7H20 was added to the milk of lime.
The agitator was then adjusted to 1480 rpm, and the slurry was carbonated by passing a gas mixture of 26 volume percent carbon dioxide in air at 100 Nm3/h through the slurry. During carbonation 100 kg of 10% w/w aqueous solution of Ab(S04)3.18H20 and 30 kg of 10% w/w aqueous solution of sulphuric acid were added continuously over total carbonation time to the reaction mixture.
Completion of carbonation was reached after 1 hour, 46 minutes reaction time and indicated by drop in pH to a constant value below 8.0.
During carbonation slurry temperature was allowed to rise resulting in a final slurry temperature of 56°C due to heat generated in the exothermic reaction. The precipitated calcium carbonate was then screened on a 45 um screen and the screened product was recovered as an aqueous slurry of the pigment.
Product of the carbonation step as stated above was an aqueous suspension with 13.8% w/w solids content of ultrafine primary calcium carbonate particles bond together to form stable porous spherical aggregates. The single crystals as constituents of the aggregates had acicular particle shape with a diameter of 20 to 50 nm and aspect ratios between 1:2 and 1:10. The porous aggregates formed from these single crystals showed diameters between 1-5 um with an average of 2 um.
The crystalline structure of the product was determined by SEM pictures.
Pigment data of the product obtained in the process described above are listed as Example 10 in Table 3.
Example 11:
Process of the invention, PCC production (Step A, option magnesium sulphate
and aluminium sulphate) and upconcentration (Steps B)
500 litres of the precipitated calcium carbonate slurry obtained according to process described in Example 10 was screened on a 45pm screen and the screened product was fed to a thermal evaporator.
Thermal upconcentration was achieved with no dispersant through evaporation under -700 to -800 mbar vacuum at product temperatures ranging from 50 to 80°C.
The evaporation was stopped when Brookfield viscosity reached defined maximum limit of approximately 1000 mPas.
Product of this upconcentration process as stated above was an aqueous suspension with 28.1% w/w solids content of ultrafine primary calcium carbonate particles bond together to form stable porous spherical aggregates.
The crystalline structure of the product was determined by SEM pictures.


Pigment data of the product obtained in the process described above are listed as Example 11 in Table 3.
Example 12:
Process of the invention, FCC production (Step A. option magnesium sulphate
and aluminium sulphate) and upconcentration (Steps B)
1000 g of the precipitated calcium carbonate slurry obtained according to process described in Example 10 were added in a 2 litre stainless steel vessel. To the 1000 g pigment slurry 19 g of a 20% w/w solution of cationic dispersant and 1 g of Hydroxy Ethyl Cellulose (HEC) were added and mixed in under continuous stirring.
The mixture was then put on a heating plate for thermal upconcentration via evaporation.
The evaporation was stopped when Brookfield viscosity reached defined maximum limit of approximately 1000 mPas.
Product of this upconcentration process as stated above was an an aqueous suspension with 21.3% w/w solids content of ultrafine primary calcium carbonate particles bond together to form stable porous spherical aggregates.
The crystalline structure of the product was determined by SEM pictures.
Pigment data of the product obtained in the process described above are listed as Example 12 in Table 3.
In Tables 2 and 3, specific surface area (SSA) was measured using a Tristar 3000 Analyzer, particle size distribution (PSD) using a Helos Sympatec, brightness using a Datacolor Elrepho 3000 Jerks, solids content using a Mettler Toledo HB43 Halogen balance, and viscosity using a Brookfield DVII Viscometer, all according to the recommendations of the manufacturer.


Table 3: Characteristics of the Pigments and Pigment-Contain Slurries of the Invention












Coating trials
A selection of the above products of the invention were introduced in paper coating slurries and coated onto paper.
Coating Trials based on Example 3. 9. 11 and 12 slurries on a K- Coater with a Grooved Rod
Coating formulation:
Four paper coating slurries were prepared, each using one of four PCC slurries prepared according to the invention, along with standard additives for Varibar coating. These additives (Mowiol 26-88, Printofix, Cartafix VXT01 and Cartabond TS1) were obtained from Clariant.











Coating the base paper with Coating Slurries 1 to 4 lead, respectively, to Coating Trial 1 to 4 results below.
Ink Jet printing trials
Printing trials were conducted on the same three different inkjet printers as previously, namely the Epson Stylus Photo 950, the HP Deskjet 5550 and the Canon i950. The test card was designed to assess the optical density, as well as the degree of feathering and bleeding.
The HP Bright White paper is marketed as a multipurpose inkjet papers. The Zweckform 2585 and Epson S041061 papers are considered to represent high quality matt inkjet papers, offering a higher print quality than standard multipurpose inkjet papers.
Optical density was measured using the Gretag D 186 densitometer according to the standard procedures indicated by the manufacturer. For an equal quantity of applied ink, the higher the optical density, the better the coating maintains the dyes on the paper surface.
Papers Coated with Coating Slurries 1 to 4:
Bleeding and feathering were measured using the Personal IAS® (Image Analysis System) instrumentation from Quality Engineering Association, Inc., according to the standard procedures given by the manufacturer. The lower the measured value, the better the bleeding and feathering.













The above table shows that the optical density obtained with the product of the invention approaches the quality of a superior inkjet paper. The bleeding obtained with the product of the invention is equal or inferior to other equivalent market papers. The feathering obtained with the product of the invention is inferior to other market papers.
The improved optical density, bleeding and feathering attest to an improved balance of absorption/adsorption properties relative to competing market products.


The optical density results of the invention were superior to comparable market papers. A decreased bleeding and an increase in feathering relative to comparable papers were also noted.












The optical density results of the invention approached the values given by superior quality papers. A decreased bleeding and similar degree of feathering relative to comparable market papers was noted.
The present invention also covers the technical equivalents of the above description, as well as options that would be easily available to the skilled man when reading the present application.


WE CLAIM:
1. Process for providing PCC useful for ink-jet printing applications,
- of the type according to which a calcium hydroxide slurry is first prepared by mixing quicklime (CaO) with water in a stirring reactor or tank ("slake"), the calcium hydroxide slurry is then screened, such as on a 100 um screen, to remove any residual impurities and/or non-reactive unburnt lime, the screened slurry is then directed towards a stainless steel reactor equipped with an agitator; the temperature is adjusted, generally to between 10 and 70°C, and subsequently the slurry is directed towards a carbonation reactor or tank, wherein carbon dioxide-containing gas is bubbled through the slurry, the slurry exits the carbonation tank when appropriate in view of conductivity and pH, generally when the conductivity reaches a minimum and the pH drops below 8, coarse particles are removed on a screen, such as a 45 um screen, such that the slurry contains only the ultrafine PCC agglomerates of the invention,
- characterized by the implementation of process steps comprising the following:
A First steps, production of the PCC:
Al
the carbonation step is performed at a carbonation gas flow rate of below 30 litres per minute at standard temperature and pressure per kilogram calcium hydroxide during precipitation.
2. Process according to claim 1, characterized in that
A2
- the slurry of calcium hydroxide leaving said stainless steel reactor after said
separation of said residual impurities and/or non-reactive unburnt lime is
treated by a combination of magnesium sulphate and Group II and/or
Group III metal sulphates
most preferably in the presence of an acid
said acid being most preferably sulphuric acid
until stable, porous agglomerates/aggregates are obtained at a concentration
of 5 to 25% solids, preferably 15 to 20% solids ("precursor")-
3. Process according to claims 1 or 2, characterized in that
A3
- said slurry of calcium hydroxide is first prepared by mixing quicklime with
water in a stirring reactor or tank ("slake") in a weight ratio of CaO:water
between 1 :3 and 1 :20, preferably between 1 :5 and 1 :12, most preferably
between 1:7 and 1:10.


4. Process according to any one of claims 1 to 3, characterized in that
A4
- the temperature is preferably adjusted to between 15 and 50°C, most
preferably to between 15 and 30°C, before the slurry is directed towards the
carbonation reactor or tank.
5. Process according to any one of claims 1 to 4, characterized in that Steps A are
followed by the following steps, Steps B:
B Upconcentration of the "precursor": dewatering/redispersing steps following the above "Steps A"
- upconcentration of the PCC produced during Steps A is performed under sufficiently gentle or mild conditions for the aggregates/agglomerates not to be substantially destroyed,
- said upconcentration is conducted without the use of a dispersing aid or with a cationic dispersing aid,
- and the amount of any cationic dispersant added is controlled so that the PCC agglomerates/aggregates of the precursor are just coated, this quantity corresponding that added prior to a slurry viscosity increase,
- until a concentration of 15 to 50%, preferably in the range 20 to 30%, most preferably 23 to 26% solids by weight is reached .
6. Process according to any one of claims 1 to 5, characterized in that in Steps A
one applies at least one of the following parameters:
- the carbonation gas flow rate is preferably selected in the range of 1 to 30, preferably 10 to 20, most preferably around 19.7 litres per minute at standard temperature and pressure per kilogram calcium hydroxide during precipitation,
- said carbonation gas is CO2 or a mixture of CO2 and one or more other gases, such as air and/ or nitrogen,
- the slurry of calcium hydroxide is most preferably treated by a combination of magnesium sulphate and aluminium sulphate,
- or a combination of magnesium sulphate and zinc sulphate.
7. Process according to any one of claims 1 to 6, characterized in that in Steps A
one applies at least one of the following parameters:
zinc sulphate can be added to the combination of magnesium sulphate and aluminium sulphate,
aluminium sulphate can be added to the combination of magnesium sulphate and zinc sulphate,
the addition of magnesium sulphate is most preferably performed before carbonation,


magnesium sulphate can be added, in a less preferred option, either before the addition of other sulphates or during that addition,
magnesium sulphate can be added, as a less preferred option, during carbonation along with aluminium and/or zinc sulphate,
magnesium sulphate can be added during carbonation or at the beginning of carbonation,
the addition of aluminium sulphate and/or zinc sulphate takes place during carbonation,
the addition of the acid, namely sulphuric acid, most preferably under the form of a 10% by weight solution of H2SO4, takes place at the beginning of carbonation
most preferably, the addition of H2SO4 takes place simultaneously with the addition of aluminium or zinc sulphate,
in all the above options, sulphates of Group II and / or III can be added in addition to aluminium and/or zinc sulphates, or as a substitute for aluminium and/or zinc sulphates,
the temperature in the carbonation tank is observed to rise up to between 40 to 80°C, preferably up to between 50 to 60°C, most preferably up to between 56 and 57°C,
removal of residual impurities and/or non-reactive unburnt lime takes place on a 45 um mesh screen when the Brookfield viscosity of the material exiting the carbonation tank is sufficiently low, namely less than 100 mPas at 100 rpm,
the final slurry product substantially consists of stable, porous agglomerates/ aggregates.
8. Process according to any one of claims 1 to 7 characterized in that in Steps B,
by "gentle or mild conditions" it is meant that the deagglomeration/deaggregation of the agglomerates/aggregates is kept to a minimum so that said agglomerates/aggregates are not "substantially destroyed", that is, during the upconcentration steps:
the increase of the fraction of particles below 2 um is limited to less than 30%, preferably less than 20%, most preferably less than 10%, and/or
the decrease of the mean aggregate diameter is limited to less than 20%, preferably less than 15%, most preferably less than 10%, as measured using a Helos apparatus,
by "deagglomeration/deaggregation" it is meant that the agglomerates/aggregates obtained at the end of Steps A by the specific process of the invention are disintegrated,
the upconcentration step can be performed in the form of any thermal or mechanical separation technology for solid/liquid suspensions provided the


aggregates/agglomerates obtained in Steps A ("precursor") are sufficiently stable and are not "substantially destroyed" by said technology.
9. Process according to any one of claims 5 to 8 characterized in that:
- the upconcentration is performed in a centrifuge, or a pressurized filter, or vacuum filtration or by thermal upconcentration, without dispersant or in the presence of a cationic dispersant,
- and characterised in that the final slurry concentration is about 23 to 26% solids by weight.
10. Process according to any one of claims 5 to 9 characterized in that
the upconcentration leads to a filter cake, such as by upconcentrating in a pressurized filter or in a centrifuge or by vacuum filtration, and in such a case:
the concentrated material is optionally washed with water a redispersion is performed
- until the final material substantially consists of stable, porous
agglomerates/aggregates identical with or very similar to those obtained in Steps A of Claims 1 to 4,
the upconcentration can be performed in a thermal evaporation step with the final material substantially remaining under the form of the stable, porous agglomerates/aggregates obtained in Steps A of Claims 1 to 4.
11. Process according to any one of claims 5 to 9 characterized in that
the upconcentration of part or all of the precursor leads to a dry product, and in such a case:
a redispersion is performed
until the final material substantially consists of stable, porous agglomerates/aggregates identical with or very similar to those obtained in Steps A of Claims 1 to 4.
12. Process according to any one of Claims 5 to 11, characterized in that approximately 5 to 9% w/w of a cationic dispersant, such as a cationic copolymer of [2-(methacryloyloxy)ethyl]trimethyl ammonium chloride and [3-(methacrylamido)propyl]trimethyl ammonium chloride, relative to dry calcium carbonate, along with HEC, is added to the slurry containing the pigment obtained in anyone of Claims 1 to 4 (Steps A).
13. Process according to any one of Claims 5 to 12, characterized in that the final slurry concentration is partially or wholly obtained by the addition of one or more additional pigments or pigment slurries during Steps B.


14. Stable, porous aggregates/agglomerates of PCC characterized in that they have been obtained according to any one of claims 1 to 13.
15. Stable, porous aggregates/agglomerates of PCC characterized in that they feature the following properties:

- a specific surface area of 30 to 100 m2/g, preferably from 50 to 80 m2/g, and/or
- a mean aggregate diameter of 1 to 5 urn, with an average diameter of 2 um,
and/or
a fraction of fines below 2 um of less than 20%, preferably less than 15% (as measured on a Helos Sympatec), and/or
a primary particle size of the acicular particles of 20 to 50 nm with an aspect ratio between 1:2 and 1:10 and/or
- a solids content, by weight from 5 to 25%, preferably 15 to 20% at the end of
Steps A, and a solids content of 15 to 50%, preferably 20 to 30%, in particular
23 to 26% solids at the end of Steps B.
16. Novel pigments characterized in that they comprise stable, porous PCC aggregates/agglomerates according to claims 14 or 15.
17. Novel pigment or PCC slurries characterized in that they comprise stable, porous PCC aggregates/agglomerates according to claims 14 or 15.
18. Novel pigments or PCC slurries according to claim 17, characterized in that their solids concentration is, by weight:
when in the form of the "precursor" at the end of Steps A, from 5 to 25%, preferably from 15 to 20% solids
when in the form of the final upconcentrated PCC (Steps B), from 15 to 50% solids, preferably from 20 to 30% solids, in particular from 23 to 26% solids.
19. Coating formulations for the paper making industry characterized in that they comprise novel aggregates/agglomerates of PCC, novel pigments and/ or novel slurries according to any one of claims 16 to 18.
20. Coating formulations according to claim 19 characterized in that the PCC slurry which it contains features the following properties
a solids content from 15 to 50%, preferably 20 to 30, in particular around 23
to 26 %/weight, and/or
a high specific surface area PCC, with a specific surface area of 30 to 100 m2/g, preferably from 50 to 80 m2/g-
21. Applications of the coating formulations according to any of Claims 19 or 20 to
the coating of Inkjet paper, namely for specialty or high-quality ink jet paper.


22. Applications of the coating formulations according to any of claims 19 or 20 to the coating of matt inkjet paper
23. Inkjet paper, namely specialty or high-quality ink jet paper, namely matt inkjet paper, characterized in that it is coated with at least one coating composition according to claims 19 or 20.


ABSTRACT
Novel and innovative PCC pigments, having a reduced production cost, able to be used in a paper coating formulations to manufacture coated high-quality matt papers, in particular for inkjet applications. Process for the preparation of same, using a reduced flow rate of a carbon dioxide-containing gas in the PCC carbonation step, which produces stable, porous, agglomerates of PCC featuring unique properties and structure, this step being followed by an upconcentration step to increase the solids content.
To,
The Controller of Patents, The Patent Office, Mumbai

Figure 1: Steps A




Documents:

1797-MUMNP-2007-ABSTRACT(GRANTED)-(11-4-2011).pdf

1797-mumnp-2007-abstract.doc

1797-mumnp-2007-abstract.pdf

1797-MUMNP-2007-CANCELLED PAGES(24-3-2011).pdf

1797-MUMNP-2007-CLAIMS(AMENDED)-(14-3-2011).pdf

1797-MUMNP-2007-CLAIMS(AMENDED)-(24-3-2011).pdf

1797-MUMNP-2007-CLAIMS(AMENDED)-(4-1-2011).pdf

1797-MUMNP-2007-CLAIMS(CANCELLED)-(4-1-2011).pdf

1797-MUMNP-2007-CLAIMS(GRANTED)-(11-4-2011).pdf

1797-MUMNP-2007-CLAIMS(MARKED COPY)-(14-3-2011).pdf

1797-MUMNP-2007-CLAIMS(MARKED COPY)-(24-3-2011).pdf

1797-mumnp-2007-claims.doc

1797-mumnp-2007-claims.pdf

1797-mumnp-2007-correspondence(21-1-2008).pdf

1797-mumnp-2007-correspondence(24-3-2011).pdf

1797-MUMNP-2007-CORRESPONDENCE(4-1-2011).pdf

1797-mumnp-2007-correspondence(ipo)-(12-4-2011).pdf

1797-mumnp-2007-correspondence-received.pdf

1797-mumnp-2007-description (complete).pdf

1797-MUMNP-2007-DESCRIPTION(GRANTED)-(11-4-2011).pdf

1797-MUMNP-2007-DRAWING(GRANTED)-(11-4-2011).pdf

1797-mumnp-2007-drawings.pdf

1797-mumnp-2007-form 1(21-1-2008).pdf

1797-MUMNP-2007-FORM 2(GRANTED)-(11-4-2011).pdf

1797-MUMNP-2007-FORM 2(TITLE PAGE)-(29-10-2007).pdf

1797-MUMNP-2007-FORM 2(TITLE PAGE)-(GRANTED)-(11-4-2011).pdf

1797-MUMNP-2007-FORM 26(14-3-2011).pdf

1797-MUMNP-2007-FORM 3(29-10-2007).pdf

1797-MUMNP-2007-FORM 3(4-1-2011).pdf

1797-MUMNP-2007-FORM PCT-IB-373(4-1-2011).pdf

1797-MUMNP-2007-FORM PCT-ISA-237(4-1-2011).pdf

1797-mumnp-2007-form-1.pdf

1797-mumnp-2007-form-18.pdf

1797-mumnp-2007-form-2-1.doc

1797-mumnp-2007-form-2-2.doc

1797-mumnp-2007-form-2.doc

1797-mumnp-2007-form-2.pdf

1797-mumnp-2007-form-26.pdf

1797-mumnp-2007-form-3.pdf

1797-mumnp-2007-form-5.pdf

1797-mumnp-2007-form-pct-ib-306.pdf

1797-mumnp-2007-form-pct-isa-220.pdf

1797-mumnp-2007-form-pct-isa-237.pdf

1797-mumnp-2007-form-pct-ro-101.pdf

1797-mumnp-2007-form-pct-separate sheet-237.pdf

1797-mumnp-2007-pct-search report.pdf

1797-MUMNP-2007-PETITION UNDER RULE 137(4-1-2011).pdf

1797-MUMNP-2007-REPLY TO EXAMINATION REPORT(14-3-2011).pdf

1797-MUMNP-2007-REPLY TO EXAMINATION REPORT(4-1-2011).pdf

1797-MUMNP-2007-REPLY TO HEARING(24-3-2011).pdf

1797-MUMNP-2007-WO INTERNATIONAL PUBLICATION REPORT(29-10-2007).pdf

abstract1.jpg


Patent Number 247483
Indian Patent Application Number 1797/MUMNP/2007
PG Journal Number 15/2011
Publication Date 15-Apr-2011
Grant Date 11-Apr-2011
Date of Filing 29-Oct-2007
Name of Patentee OMYA DEVELOPMENT AG
Applicant Address BASLERSTRASSE 42, CH-4665 OFTRINGEN
Inventors:
# Inventor's Name Inventor's Address
1 KAESSBERGER MICHAEL SCHAUENSEE 32, CH-6204 SEMPACH
2 POHL MICHAEL H.-V.-TUERLIN STR. 11, AT-9500 VILLACH
PCT International Classification Number C01F11/18 D21H19/38
PCT International Application Number PCT/IB06/000975
PCT International Filing date 2006-03-29
PCT Conventions:
# PCT Application Number Date of Convention Priority Country
1 05075901.8 2005-04-11 EUROPEAN UNION