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IPST Executive Conference Looks Beyond the Boundaries

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The Institute of Paper Science and Technology at Georgia Tech, Atlanta, Ga., USA, held its annual executive conference at the Paper Tricentennial Building this week. About 50 executives and research professionals attended the event—"Beyond the Boundaries: Opportunities in Forest Bioproducts"—representing a dozen manufacturing companies, a half-dozen supplier companies, three affiliate organizations, and a number of faculty and students.

"The discussion identified many ways to apply Georgia Tech’s capabilities in innovative research in the service of forest bioproducts development, and showcase the work of our students," said IPST Executive Director Norman Marsolan. "Such interactions with our members and guests about industry advancement generate significant value for all of us."

"Time well spent," commented Peter Allen, senior technical director-Kimberly Clark. "Lots of new and stimulating ideas." Gregg Reed, technical manager at Imerys, cited the value of networking with current and new colleagues, and gaining an update on IPST programs and activities.

Presentations covered new technologies in forest bioproducts materials production as well as improvements to existing pulp and paper manufacturing operations. Applications of "big data" gathering and modeling tools to both technology and product challenges and operating issues attracted interest. Impacts of changes in energy sources on supply and demand of petroleum-based feedstock chemicals suggested opportunities for biomass-derived chemical feedstocks. Participants heard presentations about new uses of lignocellulosic materials ranging from carbon fibers and solar-induced hybrid fuel cells to advanced composites and 3-D printing. "This was another great opportunity for pulp and paper stakeholders to meet and collaborate on developing the broad value of forest assets," noted Dan Floyd, Renmatix process technology director.

Another highlight of the meeting was its focus on IPST’s graduate students and their research. A panel of students, moderated by a recent graduate now working in the industry, shared their perspectives about the value of the interdisciplinary degree program at Georgia Tech. Six PhD candidates presented their research on bioenergy, paper, chemical recovery, and new products from lignocellulosic materials.

Simultaneously, the Georgia Tech Research and Innovation Competition was being conducted across campus. Executive Director Marsolan announced at dinner that two Paper Science and Engineering students had won honors in the poster competition. PhD candidate Xiaodan Zhang was recognized for "Flexible Paper-Based Electronic Devices for Energy Storage," and PhD candidate Sudhir Sharma for "High-Performance Green Barrier Films from Thermal Treatment of Cellulose Nanofibrils." Both are students of professor Yulin Deng. Their selection came with cash prizes sponsored by the Institute of Chemistry Foundation. "These papers are two excellent examples of ‘beyond the boundary’ applications of renewable lignocellulosics," Marsolan said.

Also at dinner, IPST recognized a distinguished alumnus, G. Ronald Brown, who earned his PhD at the Institute in 1975. Dr. Brown has spent his career in research and development on behalf of the pulp and paper industry, most recently as president of the industry’s Agenda 2020 Technology Alliance in Washington, D.C.

Georgia Tech EVP-Research Steve Cross addressed the group March 13. "IPST is a forum for stimulating use-inspired research, driven by real-world industry challenges," he observed. "Georgia Tech’s strategy is to create transformational opportunities through such partnerships."

More information and the presentations are available online.

 

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