Sven Axel Rydholm

Sven Rydholm was born in Landskrona, Sweden in 1923. He received his Master of Science in 1948 and a Licentiate in 1952, both in Chemical Engineering from the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm. He worked as a research engineer for SCA in Sundsvall from 1948 to 1952 and for Billerud AB in Säffle from 1952 to 1977. He held various management positions in Billerud AB, among them several years as research director, and finally as President of the Pulp and Paper Division. Rydholm was the global authority on pulping processes and pulp qualities of his time. Rydholm summarized all available knowledge in the monumental work “Pulping Processes” published in 1965. This book of 1,269 pages has been used in universities, institutes, and companies world-wide up to the present day.

Rydholm was the driving force in Billerud’s decision to invest in an experimental factory with a production capacity of 10 tons per day within its research organization to study process equipment, process conditions and product qualities of continuous pulping processes and investment in a new Kraft pulp digester at the Gruvön mill. His decade long work in collaboration with AB Kamyr resulted in continuous pulping technology that is now the state-of-the-art in the industry. He obtained, among others, a patent on the path-breaking inverted top separator of the continuous digester. He was instrumental in Billerud’s decision in 1965 to establish a forest plantation and pulp mill in Portugal (Celbi), a forerunner producing high quality eucalyptus market pulp. He was also a prime reason for Billerud’s involvement in the Aracruz Celulose development in Brazil.

Rydholm eagerly promoted technologies leading to sustainable development of the pulp and paper industry. In 1971 the new bleached Kraft pulp mill at Gruvön pioneered new equipment and processes including several systems of water recirculation, chemical and energy recovery and process control. He served as chairman of the first joint committee of experts from the Swedish Forest Industry and the Swedish EPA and showed his great ability and leadership in this endeavor.

Rydholm received the SPCI Ekman medal in 1971, the TAPPI Pulp Manufacture Division Award (and JCFC Richter Prize) in 1973, and an Honorary Doctorate in Chemical Engineering from the Royal Institute of Technology in 1974.

Sven Rydholm died on March 26, 1977 in Säffle, Sweden.