Researchers To Study How Paper Industry Can Reduce Water And Chemical Use

July 09, 1997

AIKEN, S.C. -- Two Savannah River Ecology Laboratory researchers are among four scientists who have been awarded a $115,000 grant to study how the nation's paper industry can save money by reducing its need for water and chemicals.

Drs. Paul Bertsch and Doug Hunter, both members of the Ecology Laboratory's Advanced Analytical Center for Environmental Science, will receive $30,000 this year and another $30,000 next year to do X-ray research at the U.S. Department of Energy's National Synchrotron Light Source, a user facility at Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island, N.Y.

The University of Georgia operates the Ecology Laboratory under a cooperative agreement with the Energy Department at the Savannah River Site near Aiken, S.C.

Heading this research project is Dr. Alan Rudie of the Institute of Paper and Science Technology in Atlanta. Also collaborating in the study is Dr. Angus Wilkinson of Georgia Tech.

Funding for the first half of the grant was recently approved by the Georgia General Assembly and Gov. Zell Miller's office and is administered through the Georgia Consortium of Technical Competitiveness.

"This is a perfect example of how our fundamental research at Savannah River Ecology Laboratory can be directly related to an industry problem," Dr. Hunter said. "Here is a case where we are able to spend outside funding on the use of Department of Energy facilities to help an American industry work more efficiently and address environmental issues."

The research is important to both DOE and the American public because the pulp and paper industry is estimated to be the third largest energy-using industry in America, Dr. Hunter said. If successful, the study will allow the industry to reduce water use, lower costs and reduce environmental discharges.

The bulk of the money going to Dr. Bertsch and Hunter will be used to support the operation of the Brookhaven microprobe beam line, an advanced research facility at which both Ecology Laboratory researchers are participating team members. The Brookhaven beam line is among the world's brightest X-ray sources, millions of times more powerful than normal medical X-rays.

One of the primary technical problems being studied is how to eliminate iron and other trace metals early on in the paper-making process. As pulp and paper plants turn away from using chlorine-containing bleaching reagents, they have begun using peroxide in the bleaching process. But iron, which is taken out of the ground by trees, reacts with the peroxide causing it to break down into hydrogen and oxygen. If more of the iron can be eliminated before the bleaching process, less of the expensive peroxide will be needed.

The Georgia Consortium for Technological Competitiveness in Pulp and Paper was established by the State of Georgia. It funds projects aimed at helping pulp and paper producers and suppliers in Georgia.

The key qualifications for funding for GPTC projects are significance to Georgia industry competitiveness; matching funds of at least one to one; collaboration by Georgia Consortium institutions (the major research universities in Georgia, the Herty Foundation and the Institute of Paper Science and Technology); and the estimated economic impact of success.
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FOR MORE INFORMATION: To conduct interviews, you may contact the researchers directly or seek assistance from one of the public information officers listed above.

1. Dr. Paul Bertsch, 803/725-5113 or 803/725-5637, e-mail, bertsch@srel.edu
2. Dr. Doug Hunter, 803/725-5639 or 803/725-0654, e-mail hunter@srel.edu
3. Dr. Alan Rudie, 404/894-9706, e-mail alan.rudie@ipst.edu
4. Dr. Angus Wilkinson, 404/894-4036
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University of Georgia

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