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    Annual Industry Partners Day of the NSERC Design Engineering Chair

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    Industry Partners Day of the NSERC Design Engineering Chair at Ecole Polytechnique a Success!
    October 19, 2011

    The annual Industry Partners Day of the NSERC Design Engineering Chair at Ecole Polytechnique held 19 October was once again a great success. Initially established in 2000, the Design Engineering Chair was the first of its kind in Canada, and remains the only Chair of its kind seeking to address the priorities of the forestry sector. Annually, the Design Chair invites its forest industry and other partners to a day where graduate students present their latest results concerning strategic planning and design of the forest biorefinery. There are also guest speakers – and this year they were particularly great.

    Johan Gott of A.T. Kearney’s Global Business Policy Council presented on “Global Macro Trends and Strategic Planning”, where he elaborated on scenarios planning. He described how plausible and wildcard future scenarios can be assessed, against which one can test the robustness of company business models. This methodology can be key to successful biorefinery planning. The Ecole Polytechnique Design Chair recently initiated a project in which scenarios analysis will be used to evaluate the “robustness” of different biorefinery strategies at one of our industry partner mills.

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    Michael Rushton, Chief Operating Officer at Lignol Innovations, presented on “Biorefining Options for the Pulp and Paper Industry and the Importance of Lignin as a Core Product”. Lignol has developed a world-class biorefinery technology that produces lignin of unique characteristics. Mike gave an overview of the lignin-based biorefinery, the various technologies that are in the marketplace, and described some implementation strategies. Things are moving fast for Lignol – they are seeking to develop a demonstration-scale plant in the near-term, and start producing HP-lignin from a flexible, multi-product capability installation. The Ecole Polytechnique Design Chair recently initiated a program with Lignol and FPInnovations to examine the viability of a range of possible lignin-based biorefineries, coupling this with market outlooks for different lignin-based products.

    France Rochette, New Business Development at E.I. DuPont Canada, presented “DuPont Advances in Biofuels and Bioproducts”. Dupont has focused largely on agricultural feedstocks that can potentially be complemented by forest-based feedstocks. France made a presentation on the evolution of Dupont through the years, and underlined the importance of product innovation and partnering – most recently with Danisco. Scenario planning and a long-term vision have been critical to Dupont’s successful transformation, and France emphasized the concept of “mega-trends” as a driver for strategy setting e.g. in the case of bioproducts.

    Over lunch, coffee and into the afternoon, the Design Chair industry partners interacted one-on-one with those who may become tomorrow’s forest industry leaders – graduate students working on case studies to define design methodologies for successful biorefinery transformation. Chair projects employ process systems engineering and process integration tools for the design of biorefinery strategies, emphasizing multidisciplinary decision-making that incorporates process, environmental and financial criteria. Graduate students involved in the Design Chair program turn mill data into knowledge for decision-making, and must work closely with our industry partners to succeed. Some of the projects presented were:

    • Incorporating Flexibility Into Supply Chain Design
    • Influence of Regulation and Policy in the Evaluation of the Environmental Sustainability of the Forest Biorefinery
    • Market Competitive Analysis of Biorefinery Product Portfolio
    • Biodrying Process Economic Viability
    • Integrated Forest Biorefinery for Mills with Mechanical Pulping
    • Value Chain Planning for P&P mills transforming to the Forest Biorefinery
    • Biomass Procurement Optimization for the Forest Biorefinery
    • Biomass Availability and Product Selection for an Integrated Mill Biorefinery
    • True Product Margin Assessment Using Real-Time Process Data
    • Lignin Transformation and Market Potential
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