Mills, Paprican and suppliers benefit from ALLIED INDUSTRY PROGRAM
By Pulp & Paper Canada
By Pulp & Paper Canada
Paprican’s raison d’etre is to bring value to its members. Much value is routinely transferred directly via interactions between researchers and mill staff. However, when equipment, instruments or che…
Paprican’s raison d’etre is to bring value to its members. Much value is routinely transferred directly via interactions between researchers and mill staff. However, when equipment, instruments or chemicals are part of the solution, Paprican has sought out suppliers to participate via its Allied Industry Program.
Paprican’s Allied Industry Partners program has been serving the industry in its present form for the last 25 years. Jim Wearing, Director, Business Development, said that one of the first examples was Paprican’s alliance with Dominion Engineering of Montreal to produce the Papriformer. Paprican developed the former on a small pilot scale and obtained the patents. It then worked with Dominion to build a large pilot unit. The first of some 30 commercial formers was installed at the Kruger mill in Bromptonville. Papriformer did well until overtaken by blade formers.
At the same time, Wearing added, Paprican was also working with Flakt and Teller to transfer the Papriscrubber technology for recovery boilers. This also achieved good sales in the North American market. Papritection achieved international market success which continues, supported by allied partner, Corrosion Services Ltd., to this day.
From the beginning, Allied Industry Partnerships have each been focused on a specific topic or development opportunity. Why? “Because the driving interest for a supplier can be different than for the pulp and paper sector,” Wearing explained. “This way, you have a better alignment of interests.”
The partnerships evolved from the strong fundamental research focus that Paprican had for its first 50 years. Some early work had been commercialized but typically not through formal alliances so no benefits accrued back to Paprican. “By the 1970s, there was an opportunity and a need to move technology into practice in a manner that the value of the intellectual property behind it could be accounted for,” Wearing said.
The partnerships are normally very synergistic and well accepted, Wearing continued. The interests of both sides need to be fully understood so the objectives are clear and the partners are not working at cross purposes. “Paprican’s motivation is to deliver valuable technology first to Paprican’s members and then globally. Openness is also a key to making it work. You need careful planning to account for each party’s interests,” Wearing said.
“The interactions of people are very important in information/technology flow,” Wearing added. “Our staff are very experienced in technology transfer at the mill level. This, plus the large market afforded within our membership prove attractive to Allied Partners.” Either side can initiate the partnerships although it is usually Paprican. “When we can’t meet all the needs of the technology transfer ourselves,” Wearing said “our Member Companies encourage us to seek out an allied industry partner to help us develop and transfer the technology.”
Sometimes, it is the industry partner that comes knocking on Paprican’s door. Often, in these cases, the supplier will establish a Fellowship or donate equipment to augment the effort in a specific task. Cooperation is not always driven by a licensing opportunity; it may be for knowledge development. The partnership program works to fulfill the technology objectives around a specific technical opportunity identified by our Member Companies.
The Allied Industry Partners provide funds commensurate with the opportunity that the development work provides. They also provide technical know how and devote other resources. An alliance agreement is drafted, which lays out the commercialization strategy, which must be defined to provide differential value to Member Companies, for example through lead time. Member Companies also enjoy royalty-free access to Paprican technology. Funding of the programs is shared. Although the majority of Paprican’s research programs are funded by its Member Companies, as development of a project moves into larger scale, the Allied Industry Partner typically shoulders an increasing amount of the development costs.
Projects cover a broad range of topics. Wearing said the array of projects covers all facets of the industry. “For example, we have alliances and also active licenses in the areas of equipment, chemicals, instruments, controls and sensors. It reflects the research objectives that Member Companies put to us.”
Wearing provided two examples of the industry partnership program at work. The first he cited was the Paprilox process that produces polysulphide in kraft pulp mills. Paprican researchers had developed a method to produce polysulphide, using the inherent catalytic properties of the lime mud in a causticizing system, at a much lower capital cost than the traditional means. “Soon after the first pilot studies, two Allied Partners were brought in — Air Liquide Canada, which provided expertise in gas handling and mixing, and Kvaerner Chemetics, which brought the process chemical engineering technology,” Wearing said.
The parties worked together to scale up the process. Receiving a go-ahead from a mill to implement it took a while longer, but E.B. Eddy’s (now Domtar Eddy) Espanola, ON, mill finally requested that it be tried there. Wearing was delighted when Espanola stepped up to the plate. “This mill has an excellent track record in successful innovation. Because the mill is integrated with a specialty fine paper operation, our researchers could also see any effect the increased yield from the polysulphide might have on papermaking. “The cooperation among mill, Alliance and Paprican staff was superb.”
“We first proved the process at large scale with batch trials. Then in late 1999, installation was completed and the system went continuous.” The project has achieved its objectives of process economies and yield improvements. Paprican and its Allied Partners are now working with other Member Companies for the second and third installations.
“Having a full-scale installation is critical in the industry because it is so capital intensive. Getting the first one always requires a determined, concerted effort,” Wearing added.
Stuart Harper, senior vice-president, research and technology, Kvaerner Chemetics, said the company has worked on a number of different projects with Paprican. As a technology company, Kvaerner Chemetics can develop and offer technology in the form of complete engineered systems. “For Paprilox, we did engineering feasibility studies, further areas of research, optimization and participated in the mill-scale trials.” He added that the company had been involved with the project for at least five years prior to its first installation.
Kvaerner Chemetics also helped develop and commercialize an FTIR chemical analyzer in partnership with Paprican. “And,” Harper added, “there are projects that we worked on but which were not commercialized. “
Another example deals with Paprican’s work in understanding air flows in recovery boilers. The nature of these flows had never been measured online and was poorly understood. Paprican encouraged work at the University of British Columbia. Led by Martha Salcudean’s team, UBC developed computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations of the flows (Pulp & Paper Canada, January 2000). Paprican developed methods to measure the flows under operating conditions. During work to validate the CFD models, Paprican researchers noted that the flow measurements could be used to make immediate adjustments to improve capacity and efficiency.
Once the Paprican team solved this riddle, they were deluged with requests from Member Companies. Over the past five years, more than 30 recovery boilers have been studied to determine the flows and help maximize throughput thermal efficiency. “It can seem like a different boiler once the changes are made,” Wearing said.
Paprican worked on the idea for quite a while before an industry partner was identified. This company turned out to be RWDI, Guelph, ON. Wearing said this is a company very strong in CFD and in practical measurement expertise, well able to do flow measurement and flow calc
The process is about to be marketed world wide, Wearing added. “In this case, RWDI actually created a business department to fit the opportunity. They have hired several people from the recovery boiler industry. Sometimes, new technology requires new business to fully exploit it.”
Wearing noted that there are over 300 recovery boilers in North America, all of which could do with an annual tune-up. “We have the lead (in technological know-how).”
Anton Davies, RWDI, said the company first got involved with Paprican about two years ago when he visited the Institute’s Vancouver laboratory. RWDI had been working within the industry for about 25 years in the fields of emissions inventory and stack testing. “We started to talk about recovery boiler optimization,” Davies said. “Paprican developed a special probe that is inserted into recovery boilers. We can map out the air flow patterns within the boiler. We are trying to optimize the way combustion air is introduced into the recovery boiler.” Often, Davies added, there is an imbalance and downflows may result, all of which lead to decreased operating efficiency of the boiler.
Heat flow measurements are done in the boiler’s upper zones. From these measurements, RWDI can see how the boiler operates and how it can be optimized. “Now,” he added, “if not operating properly, recovery boilers are often shut down once a month. If these frequent shutdowns can be eliminated, mills will save a bundle of money.”
The goal is to ensure a good heat transfer to the walls of the boiler to produce steam used in other mill processes. By recommending changes to the air flows, Paprican and RWDI have helped many mills improve their recovery boiler operations.
There are innumerable future opportunities for pulp and paper making processes across Paprican’s program. “The challenge will be to provide the integrated business support for all these opportunities,” Wearing said. “We have to ensure that we are studying the entire business and technical context for each opportunity.” With Paprican “going global”, these opportunities will be world wide in scope.
For these partnerships to work, it must be a win:win:win proposition, with the Member Company receiving the lion’s share of the benefits. One way to receive that lion’s share is through exclusive access to the benefits of the technology for a lead time period. Harper added that first-time users of technology generally receive attractive financial terms.
The second winner is the industry partner. It gains the market and may have the opportunity to expand its facilities. For example, Kvaerner Chemetics has the world-wide license to market the Paprilox technology.
The third winner is Paprican as the license-holder. “The licensor typically receives the smallest share but what we do receive, we plow back into the program to benefit Member Companies.” “Lead time is the key,” Wearing stressed. “Competition dictates that nothing is exclusive forever.”
He also gave some other examples of ideas that have been marketed successfully. These include a family of popular instruments including the Fibre Quality Analyzer, produced by OpTest, the Felt Permeability Tester from Lorentzen & Wettre, and the FT-IR chemical analyzer. The Member Companies have a high degree of confidence in Paprican’s abilities to deliver technical value at the mill level. This is a strong asset for any of its Allied partners. “Looking back on the last 25 years,” Wearing said, “We have a strong foundation to work with. The new business plan and new innovative strategies to exploit the value of intellectual property guarantees an exciting decade.
Paprican began as a partnership between government, university and industry. It has always been described this way — a unique arrangement in its origins, and one that has been used as a model for other organizations with similar aims.
Over the years, Paprican research and development has contributed to the objectives of government programs. This is particularly true as these programs relate to environmental issues such as energy conservation and protection of the environment, for example, in the early 1990s with the environmental research programs of Industry Canada. Most recently this continuing emphasis has been through Technology Partnerships Canada. Government partnerships include the programs of the Government of Canada. They also include the generous R&D tax rebates from the Government of Quebec available to pulp and paper companies supporting R&D invested in collaborative institutional research in Quebec from anywhere in Canada.
As Paprican implements its new business plan, the federal government has provided interim funding, helping Paprican to maintain its core competencies.
Government has an essential role in the support of industrial R&D organizations like Paprican. A recent worldwide benchmarking study shows that governments elsewhere strongly support their industrial research institutes. This kind of support is an essential feature of Paprican’s ability to compete in the market place, since other governments support their institutes at the same or at greater levels. A dynamic and excellent central research organization is key to technical development in the pulp and paper industry in those countries. The support of government, as designed into the original plan for Paprican, is essential for the economic health and competitive strength of the Canadian pulp and paper industry.