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UBC professor developing ‘green’ paper named as finalist for innovation award


February 16, 2021
By P&PC Staff

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An assistant professor of engineering at the University of British Columbia (UBC) developing a grease-resistant paper is one of two Canadian finalists for the global Blue Sky Young Researchers and Innovation Award.

The award is part of a global initiative spearheaded by the International Council of Forest & Paper Associations (ICFPA), which is currently led by Derek Nighbor, president and CEO of the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC).

The contest is an opportunity for forest sector researchers and professionals under the age of 30 to showcase how their ideas, practices, processes, and technologies are advancing the global bioeconomy while sustaining the natural environment.

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Finalist Dr. Kevin Golovin, an assistant professor of engineering at UBC, is researching the development of an oil- and grease-resistant paper without using perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) by investigating nano-silicone brushes.

His work on next-generation water and oil-repellent coatings was inspired by the desire to develop greener and more eco-friendly alternatives to replace the harmful PFCs traditionally used.

Food packaging is an increasingly high-volume commodity product within the paper industry. However, PFCs cause paper to be considered non-biodegradable as they take hundreds of years to naturally break down.

The silicone technology developed by Golovin is biodegradable so it solves this issue, while reducing a mill’s carbon footprint (PFC production is carbon-intensive) with a naturally green material.

The other finalist is Véronique Rouleau, a PhD candidate in forest sciences at Laval University, is spearheading research to gain a greater understanding of the phenomena that govern soil organic carbon (SOC) storage in managed boreal forests.

Rouleau’s proposal combines her deep knowledge of forestry, soil sciences and microbiology to develop actionable solutions for carbon sequestration and climate change mitigation through forestry practices.

The results of this study will ensure that forest management currently practiced in Quebec boreal forests contributes to climate change mitigation and provides a sustainable basis to a diversified, local, resource-use efficient and environmentally friendly forest-based bio-economy.

“The leading-edge research being conducted by Ms. Rouleau and Dr. Golovin are two examples of what puts Canada’s forest products sector at the forefront of innovation, and we are excited about their ability to compete on the world stage,” says Nighbor.

“The work of our two finalists is aimed at tackling real problems with innovative solutions that can mean better environmental outcomes for the industry and society – and for that they should both be congratulated.”

An international judging panel will select three winners from the 21 finalists, each of whom will have an opportunity to present their projects at the ICFPA’s CEO Global Roundtable discussion held virtually during the week of Apr. 26.

“On behalf of our international judging panel, I would like to congratulate all the finalists for the Blue Sky Young Researchers and Innovation Award,” says Dr. Lyndall Bull, forestry officer with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, in a statement.

“Each of the entrants offers innovative solutions to help maximize the contribution that sustainable forest products can make to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.”