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For the last 25 years, the Pulp & Paper Centre at U of T has been the heart of powerful collaboration with industry, yielding innovations that have made a world of difference.

From November 6 to 8, the Centre’s researchers and industry partners met at U of T for an annual research consortium. The topic was how to increase energy and chemical recovery efficiency.

But it was also an opportunity to celebrate the 25 years – and counting – of fruitful university-industry partnership fostered by the Energy & Chemical Recovery (E&CR) group, one of the five research groups that make up the Centre.

“The fact that there are 22 companies from seven countries here today is, itself, evidence of the strong collaboration across nations and continents,” said Dean Cristina Amon at the meeting, where attendees came from as far away as Brazil and New Zealand. “Many of you have been supporting this research program for more than a decade, and we deeply appreciate your continuing commitment.”

The Pulp & Paper Centre was founded by Professor Doug Reeve (ChemE) in 1987, with the mission of stimulating research for the manufacturing of pulp and paper products, as well as encouraging collaborative research with industry partners.

Under Professor Reeve’s 15 years of leadership, and now Professor Honghi Tran’s (ChemE) direction, the Centre and E&CR have cultivated almost 50 industry partners to date.

The result? Research collaboration that’s created game-changing products.

“Many results we obtained from our research have been applied or used quickly by our partners to improve their processes and operations – there’s just too many to mention,” said Professor Tran.

One example is the design of sootblower nozzles, which produce high-intensity steam jets to efficiently remove deposits from heat transfer tube surfaces in recovery boilers (a special unit used to burn spent liquor from the pulping process). These nozzles are now used in more than 95 per cent of recovery boilers, saving the industry an estimated US$100 million per year, globally.

At the consortium, companies who’ve supported E&CR since the very beginning, such as Babcock & Wilcox Canada Ltd, were recognized with commemorative plaques.

“Many of you have been at this table for 25 years,” said Professor Reeve. “It goes without saying how unique that is, internationally, and at U of T.”

Professor Paul Young (CivE), U of T’s Vice President, Research & Innovation, added to that sentiment, “Collaboration between universities and many different types of partners is absolutely necessary if we are to bring bright and valuable new advances to global society.”

“In this spirit, let me congratulate the Pulp and Paper Centre on your magnificent track record over the past quarter century in building and maintaining partnerships with industry to enhance the value of your work, and the contribution you make to the world,” he added.

Although the consortium was an opportunity to honour the past 25 years of success, Professor Tran is very much focused on the future. His Energy & Chemical Recovery group received a three-year NSERC Collaborative Research and Development grant in June, which will further their research in biomass combustion and the impact of boiler operations.

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