AbstractThe usage of non-wood pulps in furnishes for the production of various paper grades is a real alternative for the substitution of wood pulp in papermaking. In terms of the papermaking process, the main limiting factor for non-wood pulp utilization is poor dewatering. This problem can be partially solved by means of retention aids, and the modern microparticle-based retention aids are very promising for this application. In this study the main aim was to characterize how the microparticle retention systems affect the retention, dewatering, and formation of a non-wood pulp furnish and how these effects and mechanisms differ when compared to normal wood pulp. The performance of several commercially available retention aids was studied by making dynamic sheet forming tests for reference and an organosolv wheat straw furnish. The emphasis in the experiments was on drainage enhancement. The maximum drainage gain obtained with the bentonite-CPAM retention aid system was about 5%. Despite the improved drainage, dewatering of the reference furnish was better than for the non-wood containing furnish.