September 10, 2014  
  360°Rolls - Case Studies #2 & 3 Read the Valmet article
    Share this page ·

·  Subscribe to Ahead of the Curve

·  Newsletters

·  Ahead of the Curve archived issues

·  Contact the Editor


RBI merges imagination with ingenuity in lignocellulosics development

By Norman Marsolan

Cellulose, nature's most abundant polymer, is sustainable, renewable, and recyclable. Lignin is a valuable chemical feedstock. Both are found in grasses, trees and agricultural biomass and are building blocks of food, clothing, packaging, coatings and composites, medicine and biomedical products, cosmetics, soaps, paint, aerogels, impact-resistant plastics, and biofuels.

Georgia Tech’s Renewable Bioproducts Institute (RBI), formerly known as the Institute of Paper Science and Technology, is transforming products and processes with forest- and agriculture-based biochemicals and bioproducts, to create market-disrupting innovations and competitive advantages for industry.


A special Inaugural Symposium will be held October 1-2, 2014 at Georgia Tech's Global Leaning Center in Atlanta, to explore the potential to accelerate the development and commercialization of renewable bioproducts from lignocellulosic materials. A second conference in the spring will address progress in engaging additional capabilities to address the challenges identified in the October symposium.

Dr. David Constable, Director- Green Chemistry Institute, American Chemical Society, will offer the keynote address, and the seminar will consist of two major segments—one on biochemicals and biofuels, and one on biomaterials.

Company presenters from Algenol, American Process, Coca-Cola, Domtar, Michelin, Renmatix, Solvay Specialty Polymers, and more will describe their materials and chemical needs and why lignocellulose is of interest. Georgia Tech faculty from the Schools of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and of Materials Science will describe promising research directions and how they could enable new applications for lignin and cellulose. Convergence panels will identify common visions, and plan how to realize them.

A poster session following the first day will provide participants with the chance to examine the research of about 40 graduate students working in the lignocellulosics area, and to vote on the most promising projects.

Participants will not only gain insights into industry and faculty perceptions of new possibilities from lignocellulosics—they will also play a role in shaping the focus of the new Institute. (Learn more and register at:


A diverse array of industries and interests is already collaborating with RBI scientists and engineers to create new cost-competitive products to capture growing world markets in such areas as: chemicals, pulp and paper, polymers and plastics, packaging, biofuels, advanced materials, specialty papers, printed electronics, transportation, and health and hygiene.

Companies have the opportunity to engage with RBI by: using it as the portal to the vast capabilities of Georgia Tech in bioproducts research; attending conferences; and investing in sponsored proprietary research and innovation or in consortium research at RBI and Georgia Tech. Companies may become an RBI member and play an active role in influencing the content and direction of endowment-sponsored, proprietary and consortium research. They may also mentor or sponsor graduate students as they pursue high-value research projects.

Of particular value to industry is the major endowment at RBI which supports the research of 50 graduate students which can be accessed and leveraged in the spirit of open innovation.

Norman Marsolan is Executive Director of the Renewable Bioproducts Institute (RBI) which benefits from a significant endowment that has contributed to the support of more than 1,000 graduate degrees over the years. It currently supports more than 50 paper science and engineering students who advance the research mission of RBI through their faculty-directed research. Learn more at, or contact Kirk Englehardt (Kirk.Englehardt@Comm.GaTech.Edu) or Norman Marsolan (Norman.Marsolan@Bioproducts.GaTech.Edu).


Now that you are Ahead of the Curve, stay there by joining TAPPI.
For a modest investment of $174, receive more than US$ 1000 in benefits in return.
Visit for more details.