AbstractIn a paper mill’s water circuit, normal runnability of the paper machine is often disturbed due to buildup of hydrophobic dissolved and colloidal substances (DCS), such as wood pitch, white pitch, and stickies. General cationic fixing agents such as hydrophilic polymers do not always work to minimize these problems. In the present study, two kinds of novel hydrophobically associating polyethylenimine (PEI) coagulants grafted by acetic anhydride and 1,2-epoxydodecane, named PEI-Ac and PEI-Ed, respectively, were synthesized to remove hydrophobic DCS. The performances of the modified PEI samples were evaluated using a model suspension containing alkaline peroxide mechanical pulp (APMP) and styrene-butadiene latex. The results showed that the modified PEI was more inclined to interact with hydrophobic substances than was non-modified PEI. The relationship between DCS removal and non-modified or modified PEI content was not linear, but there was a maximum. The turbidity and particle counts of model suspensions decreased 30% and 80%, respectively, when the dosage of PEI-Ed(a) was 0.025%. Compared with the 72.8% decrease in the case of non-modified PEI, cationic demand decreased by 67.7% when the PEI-Ed(a) concentration was 0.2%. It was also found that PEI-Ed had a better affinity for DCS than PEI-Ac, which may be because the PEI-Ed had a long hydrophobic chain.