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Wisconsin Grants Aimed at Paper Mill Sustainability Projects

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Wisconsin state grants, totaling around $100,000, recently awarded to two Wisconsin businesses and the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP), will be directed toward conversion of pulp and paper mill sludge into a valuable by-product stream. As reported by the Wausau Daily Herald this week, Abba Makolin Waldron & Associates in Neenah and Wausau-based American Science and Technology will partner with the university on separate projects., both being run through the Wisconsin Institute for Sustainable Technology.

Professor Don Guay, one of the UWSP faculty members, is working on a project with American Science and Technology that is focused on turning paper mill sludge headed for a landfill into isoprene, a sugar-rich compound used in industrial products such as car tires. Diverting the sludge to by-product development could save mills considerable landfill costs while creating another revenue stream.

The second project, with Abba Makolin Waldron & Associates, is focused on improving the consistency of paper made with recycled paper. It uses a technology invented by UWSP professor Gerry Ring that mixes paper fibers of different lengths more precisely. The process creates a stronger sheet of paper and allows companies to use cheaper materials. Abba Makolin President Bob Makolin said his company will work with student researchers to take Ring's process and create a fiber-length analyzer that can be installed on paper machines.

"If this technology works out, it could be truly a game changer for the industry," Makolin said in the newspaper article.