WILMINGTON, DEL. -- Du Pont Co. and International Paper Co. have signed an agreement on the use of a new pulp-bleaching technology that reduces the use of chlorine.

Under the agreement, Du Pont will license the use of hydrogen peroxide to enhance the delignifying and bleaching effects of oxygen in the making of all kinds of paper, the two companies said in announcing the accord last week. Delignifying makes paper less woody and fibrous.

Du Pont spokeswoman Kathleen Forte said "the hydrogen peroxide is more efficient, more cost effective and more environmentally safe because it doesn't involve chlorine. It allows the paper manufacturer to use less or no chlorine in the process."

The agreement permits use of the process in North America, Japan and Scandinavia.

Du Pont said it is the leading North American producer of hydrogen peroxide, with capacity of more than 200 million pounds a year.

"The pulp and paper industry is the single largest market for hydrogen peroxide in North America," said Du Pont spokesman Joseph Westwood. "In fact, the use of hydrogen peroxide in pulp and paper is growing much faster than the industry itself because of the need to produce higher quality paper and paperboard at lower cost."

International Paper has developed its bleaching technology as part of a major long-term research effort designed to increase pulp-making capacity and improve the quality of paper products, the company said.