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Pulp and paper’s future leaders: Meet Ali Elahimehr

August 16, 2021  By Kristina Urquhart

The future of pulp and paper looks bright.

Armed with a strong work ethic, initiative, curiosity, and a commitment to training and safety, the 2021 winners of our Top 10 Under 40 program are setting the bar for young professionals across the industry in management, operations, maintenance, sales, support and research.

To highlight the achievements of each individual selected for the Top 10 Under 40 list, Pulp & Paper Canada will feature one of 2021’s winners every week for the next 10 weeks. Nominations for the 2022 contest open at the end of the year.


This week, we introduce Ali Elahimehr, senior scientist, development & implementation for FPInnovations in Vancouver, B.C.

Ali Elahimehr’s specialty has been mechanical pulping ever since he graduated from the University of British Columbia’s doctoral program in 2013. While there, he worked with a consortium of 16 companies to develop and test solutions for energy and cost reduction in mechanical pulping.

“His experimental and theoretical work with an enhanced model to understand the effect of refiner plate design on refining performance was ground-breaking, enabling researchers to better predict energy-saving potential of refining,” says Zhirun Yuan, Elahimehr’s manager at FPInnovations.

“Over 10 years, Ali has had a leadership role in the development and implementation of energy-saving strategies resulting in more than 83 gigawatt-hours per year of clean electrical energy savings in B.C. — enough to power 7,644 homes for a year.”

Elahimehr, 39, took his pulping expertise to West Fraser’s Quesnel River Pulp in 2013. There, he served as process engineer for a BCTMP upgrade that included the development of the world’s first LC-refining system in a $15.4-million project.

When Elahimehr was promoted to senior process engineer in 2016, he embarked on another project, this time with FPInnovations and UBC, and developed a novel way to reduce energy on the BCTMP line.

“These projects provide strong examples of Dr. Elahimehr’s ability to realize innovative new concepts for operational development that result in substantial environmental impact and energy savings for the benefit of the industry,” says Yuan.

Now at FPInnovations, Elahimehr is exploring new product development opportunities for mechanical pulp, and working with members to reduce cost and improve quality of TMP and BCTMP. He continually gives knowledge back to the community through peer-reviewed papers and conference presentations.

Up next: we highlight the contributions of winner Andrew Wasik.

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