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Charting the Future for the Western Industry


September 1, 2010
By Pulp & Paper Canada

During PacWest, an exceptional panel representing a cross-section of R&D providers, funding agencies, and decision makers assembled at Sun Peaks to debate the future of R&D for the western pul…

During PacWest, an exceptional panel representing a cross-section of R&D providers, funding agencies, and decision makers assembled at Sun Peaks to debate the future of R&D for the western pulp and paper industry. Chaired by Paul Watson (Canfor Pulp), the panel was composed of Andy Garner (AG&A Inc.), Tom Rosser (Natural Resources Canada), Dick Kerekes (UBC, Emeritus), Markus Zeller (BC Hydro), Patrice Mangin (CIPP), Jean Hamel (FPInnovations) and Robert Parisotto (BC Forestry Innovation Investment).

The session started with a report commissioned in 2009 by BC Forest Innovation Investment (FII) and authored by Andy Garner — Key Products and Technical Priorities for the BC Pulp and Paper Industry. This report updated a similar one produced in 2006. Based on extensive feedback from the industry, it confirmed that local fibre and local conditions are the predominant factors governing R&D needs.

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It recommended 10 initiatives:

• Mountain Pine Beetle (MPB) killed wood needs a good value chain model

• Optimized refining for MPB kraft pulp

• Extending the shelf life of MPB wood

• Improved kraft pulping of MPB wood

• Demonstration of the specific advantages of BC pulps through pilot machine trials

• On-line sensing for chips and pulp quality

• Developing methods to improve BC pulps

• Development of new products from BC pulps

• Reducing pulping costs

• Implementation of best practices for product development.

The panel speakers described the available resources and capabilities of their institutions to further these initiatives. Tom Rosser reported that the federal government, even during these times of fiscal restraint, was making unprecedented investments to enable innovation, markets and programs to diversify the forest products sector. Examples are a two-year, $40-million Pilot Scale Demonstration Program (PSDP) to accelerate commercialization of the outcomes of the Transformative Technologies program and, in 2011, the four-year, $100-million Investments in Forest Industry Transformation program (IFIT) which will build on the PSDP.

Dick Kerekes provided an overview of the UBC Pulp and Paper Centre. The UBC PPC continues to deliver interna-tionally recognized research and technical solutions and is a major player in three national NSERC Strategic Networks: Innovative Green Fibre products, SENTINEL Bioactive Paper, and Biomaterials and Biochemicals. All three are focused on new products for the future, for example, non-traditional fibre-based products and chemicals and materials from lignin. In addition to product-focused research, the Centre has expanded its capabilities in fibre processing research with the installation of a new mill-scale pulp refiner in its pilot plant. The current focus is on energy reduction in mechanical pulping.

Markus Zeller spoke extensively about innovation and the benefits of collaborative R&D, noting that “research turns dollars into ideas whereas innovation turns ideas into dollars.” BC Hydro Power Smart offers demonstration project funding and coordinates industry, utility and government interests. He observed that four of the 10 initiatives identified in the Technical Priorities report directly impact energy management.

Patrice Mangin stressed the urgent need to support innovation through R&D coordination, efficient networking and financing. He announced the formation of Innopap, a new venture encompassing four world-class research organizations: International Coating Centre (CIC), Integrated Pulp & Paper Centre (CIPP), FPInnovations, and Quebec Institute of Graphic Communications (ICGQ). Innopap will market its capabilities to the USA and to China and plans to assist with networking outside the traditional forest products sector. He noted that funding networks were great, but there is a real need for demonstration facilities, otherwise Canada’s leadership position will be lost.

Jean Hamel reported that the plastics industry output would double from 300 million t/yr in 10 years, hence fibre composites will be needed to fill the shortfall. He outlined a number of the resources available at FPInnovations. He also suggested that Canada needs to develop a culture of transferring research findings to the market place.

The take-home message from this session was succinctly provided by the final speaker Rob Parisotto. Unlike the solid wood sector, B.C.’s pulp and paper industry does not speak to government with a single voice, he noted. Hence, the messages are mixed and unclear. Parisotto encouraged the sector to make its voice felt and its needs known in a unified way, and to work closely with provincial and federal bodies. Following the meeting, Andy Garner, Dick Kerekes, and Paul Watson agreed to undertake such an initiative, which is now in its formative stages.

PPC

-with input from Dick Kerekes, Andy Garner and Paul Watson


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