What is the next big thing in pulp and paper?

By Tue, Dec 18, 2012

BRUSSELS, Dec. 18, 2012 (RISI) -The Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI) has taken up the challenge to investigate how to meet the European Union targets that aim to reduce CO2emissions by 80% by the year 2050, and has begun by forming the "Two Team Project" approach in an effort to galvanise the industry into action on the R&D front

Marco Mensink, Deputy Director General of CEPI and Bernard de Galembert, Forest and Research Director were interviewed for PPI Magazine about CEPI"s Two Team approach and what might just be the next big thing in pulp and paper.

Click hereto read more about Breakthrough Technologies: The Two Team Project

PPI: Do you include all technology? Are there boundaries?

The bottom line of the project is that there should be as little limits to creativity and imagination as possible, however the Two Team Project has a technology focus. It will NOT focus on new products, markets and value chains. The development of products and markets is an issue for the companies (within the business competition area), not for CEPI. Furthermore, in most cases the development of new markets and value chains can be covered by other initiatives such as the possible EU bio-based industries public private partnership. There is no barrier however, as the outcome of the Two Team project can also result in new products that will address the needed 50% value increase.

The project does focus on breakthrough technologies for pulp production, paper making and energy production/conversion. The teams should come with concepts for new pulp technologies, new paper machines and boilers, as well as other functionalities of the current equipment, or optimisation of the current processes. One can argue that this will not lead to breakthroughs, as it focuses on old products. However, the current equipment and a large volume of the sector turnover will by 2050 still be based on paper and pulp grades. Developing breakthrough technologies therefore makes much sense. Focusing concepts on pulp and paper (machine) technology has the added value of being valuable for more paper grades then one.

 The teams may focus on breakthrough technologies needed for new products but on a level that will lead to results for a large part of the sector, not for a single niche product. New technologies for example could be developed for separation or fractionation of fibers or new applications for waste materials, with new combinations of raw materials and products as a result. And finally the teams can focus on combinations of new products and raw materials and old and new technologies in pulp, paper and energy production (for example new combinations of fillers and nanomaterials with fibers). Teams can also consider the integration of our industry with other sectors (industrial symbiosis).

The Two Team Project should bring solutions for old and new mills, north and south, large and small and tissue, packaging and graphic papers, virgin and recycled-based. The teams will decide on which ones, but will be strongly requested to have a broad sector scope. Still the winning concepts should have a clear business case.

PPI: What are the criteria for the technologies you are looking for?

The two teams compete in identifying more efficient, lower carbon, better integrated, more sustainable technologies and/or processes. Irrespective of their working methods, each team should deliver at least two generic concepts for breakthrough technology in pulp and paper manufacturing. Each concept should have an analysis showing the estimated benefits, and a justification why the team selected it. In principle, this analysis should be in line with the value creation and carbon reduction starting points of the forest fiber industry 2050 Roadmap. Practically, the jury will vote on the basis of three specific criteria: 1: to what extent does the concept contribute to the -80% decarbonisation?, 2: to what extent does the concept contribute to the +50% value and 3: have the proposed concepts a promising business case?

PPI: Can team members be accepted from all over the world, or is it restricted to Europe?

The Two Team Project is CEPI initiative. Team members come from Europe, but also work for global companies. In order to guarantee the best possible outcome, focus will lie on the geographical spread amongst companies, institutes and "outsiders" involved - to secure a wide "European approach". Ideas can be submitted from anywhere in the world. But also experts from all over the world can be asked to join meetings if they bring great ideas.

PPI: What are the legal implications of the Two Team approach when it comes to patents etc?

Intellectual Property Rights are the most crucial issue, next to creativity. We feel we can secure a safe environment and outcome. To secure this, we will restrict the final outcome to "generic pre-competitive "concepts". These are directions for future work, programmes and projects. Not technically detailed descriptions. 90% of the process we envisage is collection of ideas, discussing, evaluating. The discussions in the team won't be public and the participants will have signed a Non-disclosure Agreement at the start of the process. It is most likely that the final generic concepts will not be single company concepts, but combinations of ideas.

The results of the Two Team Project will be owned by the sector as a whole (CEPI = the industry). They will be made public with the report, only in the form of generic concepts.

PPI: When and where will the first Award be given out?

The team reports will be evaluated by a jury. The jury consists of a selection of the CEPI Board CEO's, a high level EU Commission representative and a selected number other stakeholders that were engaged in building the CEPI 2050 roadmap. The jury will determine which of the concepts is/are most convincing and has/have the most potential and maybe even decide on a winning team. The winner will be announced at European Paper Week 2013.

PPI: Will this be an ongoing, annual activity in the future?

The Two Team Project ends at European Paper Week 2013, our intentions and goals however do not. The concepts developed will have to be taken further, by companies, research institutes and the Forest-based Technology Platform. They will offer exciting directions for suppliers, be the basis for consortia and at some stage grow into competitive projects. The Two Team project hopes to sow the seeds of future change, that then grows on its own in the future bio economy. While the Two Teams are running, the EU is developing its 2014-2020 research and innovation budgets. We will work hard to secure that they include opportunities for the best concepts coming from these teams.

The Two Team Project is as much a process as a project. The aim is to secure that the outcome of the project - the innovative breakthrough concepts - are not only developed, but welcomed, supported, agreed upon by the sector and a basis for future EU and member state support. In the meantime, attention will be given to keep the momentum generated by the launch of the Roadmap in November 2011. For this reason all steps and activities in the project will be thought through not only in content, but also in communication terms. The foundation for this is laid in the concept of the Two Team Project itself. The approach is innovative. The project is "public". The high level jury in the end of the project will secure attention to the new concepts from the industry as a whole.

PPI: What message would you like to give to the global industry?

Well, we would like to pose a few questions to the industry: we have asked many people about the last breakthrough in our sector. The development of the bioeconomy is a new direction. But huge changes to our equipment? The shoe press? The recovery boiler? A decade ago we spoke about condebelt and inpinchment. Now we might look at vertical paper machines, foam forming or supercritical CO2,maybe using ultrasound? There must be a million ideas out there with payback times above five years no one dared to propose in the current economy. Is the golden idea there? Who knows - that is up to the teams to decide. But you should give input and follow closely. In short - this is the project you cannot miss!

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