DuPont donates new papermaking patent rights to the University of Maine

August 31, 2001

DuPont has agreed to donate patent rights for a new papermaking technology to the University of Maine where chemical engineers will work with Sappi Fine Paper North America to explore ways to refine it and make it commercially viable. Laboratory studies indicate that the technology may increase the efficiency and environmental performance of paper mills.

DuPont selected UMaine from a number of other universities to receive the donation, based on the school's ability to elaborate the technology, scientific reputation and capability for adding value and eventually commercializing the technology, among other criteria.

Sappi, the leading manufacturer of coated wood-free paper in North America, owns paper mills in Somerset and Westbrook. The company has an established reputation for innovative, high quality products.

UMaine will maintain the patents and conduct research to implement the technology at an industrial scale. In the early stages of papermaking, chemicals and water are added to raw pulp. Water that drains away at a later stage can take short fibers and chemicals out of the paper. The new technology developed by DuPont allows the paper to retain more of the fibers and chemicals and thus produces a savings in both paper production and wastewater treatment.

"We are extremely pleased that DuPont has selected the University of Maine from among a number of other high-quality institutions to carry forward the retention additive technology," said Daniel Dwyer, vice president for research at UMaine. "We are grateful for the opportunity for our faculty and students to participate directly in the development of prototype manufacturing processes."

"This is one of the most significant gifts ever received by the university. It represents a new stage, a new level of commitment in bringing the benefits of research to the state," says UMaine President Peter S. Hoff. "Over time, it is likely to make an enormous difference in our resource base and our capacity to serve the citizens of Maine."

Under the terms of the donation, the university will receive the intellectual property and assistance from DuPont employees to support continuing studies of the process that has been developed by DuPont. That research will be done by scientists and engineers in the UMaine Pulp and Paper Process Development Center.

"We are delighted to make this donation to the University of Maine and are confident that we have selected the best possible recipient to further elaborate and develop this technology," said Jeffrey A. Coe, vice president and general manager, DuPont Chemical Solutions Enterprise.

The center maintains a pilot scale papermaking machine located in Jenness Hall on the Orono campus. Established in 1956, the plant was modernized in 1986 to allow researchers to test new pulp mixtures and adjust steps in the paper making process under realistic operating conditions.

"We're excited to be a part of this process, continuing our long-standing relationship with the esteemed faculty and talented students at the University of Maine," said Dan Coughlin, technical specialist at Sappi's Somerset mill. "We have a long history in this state and are thrilled to partner again with a local university. We hope our combined expertise will make this process a success, helping paper manufacturers improve efficiencies and reduce operating costs."

Throughout its history, Sappi has been committed to intensive research and development, resulting in many industry "firsts." Sappi's desire to assist the University of Maine in commercializing this patented technology is further evidence of its on-going dedication to innovation, the forestry industry and the Maine community.

Potential revenues stemming from use of the technology will depend on research results and market conditions. "This donation presents the University of Maine with an opportunity to serve the state. We can take advantage of one of the best pulp and paper research facilities in the nation to develop this technology further," says Dwyer.
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DuPont is a science company, delivering science-based solutions that make a difference in people's lives in food and nutrition; healthcare; apparel; home and construction; electronics and transportation. Founded in 1802, the company operates in 70 countries and has 93,000 employees.

University of Maine

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