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1990 original ATTEC control panel, still in operation but in need of upgrading to an HMI interface 1990 original ATTEC control panel, still in operation but in need of upgrading to an HMI interface

Optimizing Starch Cooking with an Integrated Starch Control System


Paper mills have implemented numerous operational improvements over the past 25 years – to increase paper machine capacity, integrate new technology, and improve paper quality. Numerous mills, however, have focused upon the paper machine, while limping along with outdated starch cooking capabilities. Many starch cookers are the same since installation, operating with loop controllers, outdated PIDs & control systems, and unsupported hardware components. When developed, a starch cooking system is optimized for a specific type, grade, and (probably) brand of starch. Is your starch cooking system optimized? What would be the impact upon your mill if you were able to run a hassle free system with pre-programmed recipes and warmup and flush cycles? Updating the control system gives the entire starch system operation a facelift into modern times.

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Starch systems provide more than a means to cook starch. they are the lifeline to producing a quality product. An ideal starch system precisely controls dilution before and after cooking, and maintains precision temperature control (+/- 1°F)—all on an automated, hands-free operating cycle to allow operators to focus on the rest of the plant.

Hydro-Thermal’s integrated control capabilities do just that. These advanced controls are complete with HMI for touchscreen operation, Ethernet connectivity, and can mimic the DCS system profiles for a hassle-free cook. Or, if you prefer to control your starch cooking system directly from your plant DCS, Ethernet and/or Modbus TCP connectivity is included. 

Complete Starch Recipe Programing 

Paper machines and grade structures have intricate setups that help optimize performance. This is done through precise cook temperatures and hold times to final cooked starch solids. The key to a completely optimized starch cooking system is an automated, robust operating system that allows for background automation and little operator interaction, while supplying consistently cooked starch to the paper machine. Hydro-Thermal’s control package allows for programmable recipes that can adjust for different starch types or paper grades and will let starch systems work in unison with the rest of the paper machine. Our systems even allow for one system to be sized for multiple starch grade outputs and sequenced to supply multiple machines or wet-end and size press applications.

Importance of Programmed Warm up and Flush Cycles 

To achieve genuinely optimum starch quality, cook temperatures, and hold times must be at consistent and correct levels during starch production. Through the patented ATTEC® Starch Cooking System, a water warm up cycle is used to prep the entire system, from slurry pump to cooked starch hold, with pre-heated piping and hold tubes. The starch cook cycle then seamlessly transitions to starch diversion, with water discharged to a drain until cooked starch is diverted into the storage tank. The end of a cook cycle then uses heated flush water to push the starch through the hold tube at the scheduled hold time, maintaining quality and minimizing waste. The flush cycle then cleans the starch system before an automated shutdown and waits idly for the next sequence to begin. The result is a perfect cook temperature maintained throughout the system from the first introduction of starch to the last, with minimum starch lost at startup and shutdown.

Other systems require the next batch of starch to clear out the hold tube of overcooked product The ATTEC Starch Cooking System operates on an automated semi-batch mode, which means starch is cooked at constant flowrate (therefore, uniform hold time) and only runs when starch is called for, helping maintain supply tank levels. The combination of automated startup and shut down cycles and semi-batch operation provides additional production capacity when the time comes. 


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With more than 100 starch cooking systems in operation, Hydro-Thermal understands the importance of starch cooking. The best way to ensure proper, continuous output is to have an updated operating system. Hydro-Thermal’s control packages enhance operations with hands-free starch recipe programs and help maintain quality with a programmed warm up and flush systems. As technology progresses, a simple installation of a Hydro-Thermal control package can give new life to a once dated system. 

Are you experiencing issues with your industrial starch system? Inconsistent cooking temperature? Uncooked starch? Pressure Spikes? bookExcessive vibration?  

To help you evaluate your overall system, our experts have prepared this Troubleshooting Guide.  

Issues Discussed in this Troubleshooting Guide:  

Use this guide as your first step in diagnosing where your system might be lagging – including these five key areas:  


  • Quality Issues 
  • Cook Temperature Issues 
  • Hammering and Vibration 
  • Process Pressure Issues 
  • Starch System Capacity Bottleneck

Ready to learn more? Download your free copy of Starch Cooking System Troubleshooting Guide by completing the form here.


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Hydro-Thermal is the global leader in the development and manufacturing of Hydroheaters. Through our vast global channel partners, we support hydro heating in six continents and all industrialized areas. We create heating systems for a variety of industries including: pulp, paper, chemical, ethanol, food & beverage, metal, & more!

Hydro-Thermal Waukesha

400 Pilot Court
Waukesha, WI 53188 USA
Phone: (262) 548-8900
Fax: (262) 548- 8908