Georgia-Pacific has donated $100,000 to Auburn University to fund a new digester, allowing engineering students to test a newly patented papermaking innovation.
A digester uses heat and chemicals to break wood chips down into pulp, which is further refined to make paper.
The new digester will replace one that has been serving students in the Alabama Center for Paper and Bioresource Engineering (AC-PABE) for more than 30 years.
“We have developed a new additive for the kraft pulping process and have been granted a U.S. patent for this technology,” said Dr. Zhihua Jiang, Auburn Pulp and Paper Foundation associate professor and director of the AC-PABE. “The new digester will allow us to systematically evaluate the effect of the new additive under various operating conditions and optimize and make the technology ready for a commercial scale trial. It will also be used in our other research projects to further improve the pulping efficiency.”
Johnnie Pearson, an Auburn graduate who is now director of the pulp power and recovery center of excellence for Georgia-Pacific, says, “I still use all my experiences from Auburn every day. It’s the fundamental basis of how I came into the industry and evolved. I worked on the old digester when I was in school, and the new equipment will have a dramatic impact on the students and advance their cooking techniques. To this day, I still go back to my hands-on experiences.”
Hudson Pope, senior vice president of Georgia-Pacific operations and president of the Auburn Pulp and Paper Foundation, added, “Georgia-Pacific values our commitment to our community partners like Auburn University. “AU is rooted in outstanding instruction and meaningful research. The educational experience that donations like this can provide for students is invaluable and critical to their success after graduation, something Georgia-Pacific is proud to be a part of.”
Based in Atlanta, Georgia-Pacific is among the world’s largest paper companies, making bath tissue, paper towels and napkins, tableware, packaging, cellulose, specialty fibers and building products.