October 21, 2015  
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Agenda 2020 Workshops Develop Technology Research Agenda

The Agenda 2020 Technology Alliance conducted two advanced manufacturing workshops in September at the Renewable Bioproducts Institute, Georgia Tech. The events were part of a 4-event series occurring pursuant to an Advanced Manufacturing Technology grant to Agenda 2020 from the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

The emerging concepts from these and subsequent workshops on next-generation pulping and black liquor concentration will be used to produce roadmaps with actionable research concepts.  Agenda 2020 and its members will then undertake initiatives to identify funding to pursue the projects, en route to creating breakthrough improvements in the industry’s efficiency and competitiveness. Several projects stemming from last year’s work are already under way.

The first workshop, Reducing Paper Drying Energy, co-chaired by Jun Xu of Xerium and Greg Pittman of International Paper Company, focused on forming and rewet. The forming group explored factors critical to developing fiber matrices to facilitate water release without impacting strength. The rewet group focused on developing next-generation nip and press designs to promote single-direction water flow. “By manipulating a fiber matrix to release water more easily, and prevent reabsorption, we can significantly reduce the amount of energy consumed in paper machine drying,” observed SAPPI Vice President Beth Cormier, who serves as the team’s sponsor and board chair for Agenda 2020.

David Lange and Arvind Singhal (Andritz), Rob Lowe (Nalco), David McDonald (JDMcD Consulting, Inc.), Hannes VomHoff (Innventia),and Dewei Qi (Western Michigan University) set the stage with background presentations summarizing the state of knowledge and the known barriers and challenges. Workgroups then strategized ways to overcome the challenges, developing promising avenues where research could overcome the hurdles.

The second workshop, Cellulosic Nanomaterials focused on dewatering and drying technologies, and application-enabling technologies. About a dozen universities and manufacturers led off with brief descriptions of the capabilities they can contribute to the work. As with the other workshop, smaller groups then identified and tackled barriers, and developed promising pathways to progress. Paul Durocher of SAPPI and Kim Nelson of American Process, Inc., co-led the workshop and currently lead the ongoing Agenda 2020 work-team. “We benefited from the cross-fertilization among so many companies and universities,” said Nelson. “We also appreciate the attendance of Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, as well as the participation and support of the US Forest Service.”
A workshop on Reuse of Process Effluents occurred in June. Similar events will be conducted on Breaking the Yield Barrier (and keeping the yield), and on application of membrane-based technology in black liquor concentration in October.

Those interested in attending those events, or in more information about the results of any of these workshops, may contact Agenda 2020 executive director David Turpin at: David_Turpin@Agenda2020.org.

The Agenda 2020 Technology Alliance is an industry-led consortium that promotes development of advanced technologies for the pulp and paper industry.

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