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Management Side
Technical Side
Agenda 2020 sets sights on 2030
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All-day assemblies of pulp and paper makers, university professors and pulp and paper industry suppliers were held recently in Atlanta and Chicago, under the aegis of the Agenda 2020 Technology Alliance. Those in attendance heard no speeches and saw no Power Points. Instead, they divided into groups--and spent the entire day brainstorming, covering meeting room walls with note papers listing problems, possible solutions and wishful thinking about the industry's tomorrows.

Transforming the paper and forest products industry through innovations in manufacturing processes and products is the lofty goal of the alliance. The members and associate members of the alliance are pulp and paper companies and others with a stake in forest products as manufacturers and suppliers. The alliance is headquartered in Washington, D.C.

It says about itself, "Our work addresses the priority R&D needs as determined by our member companies. We are led by our member companies and work cooperatively with universities, research institutions and government agencies." The alliance encourages the development of advanced manufacturing technologies that promise transformational effects on pulp, paper and other forest-based industries.

The alliance's current priority areas for R&D are:
• Next generation chemical pulping
• Energy-efficient black liquor concentration
• Reuse of process water
• A drier web to paper machine dryers
• Cellulosic nanomaterials
• Value-added bioproducts made at pulp mills

The organization uses several "platforms" on which to group and classify its R&D efforts. Its sustainable manufacturing platform addresses new approaches for reducing water usage and energy demands and emissions of greenhouse gases "that will make the industry's production processes more sustainable and efficient."

The alliance's bioproducts platform encourages new methods of getting value from wood, including cellulosic nanomaterials, biomass-to-energy, biorefineries integrated with pulp mills, and high-value chemicals.

A sustainable forest productivity work group drives programs that assure the forests' capacity to sustainably supply ample wood to meet the future demands for traditional paper and wood products, as well as new demands for use in biofuels, energy and bioproducts. The R&D priorities in this area are to develop trees with high growth rates for specific end uses, develop and sustain deployment of short-rotation woody crops, biotechnology and tree improvement, and sustainable high-yield forestry systems.

Another work group concentrates on the application of nanotechnology and nanomaterials in the paper and forests industry, with a special emphasis on cellulose nanomaterials.

Agenda 2020 dates its life from a concept established in 1992. It broadened its membership and became a member-supported organization in 2005. With a record of progress toward its goals for the year 2020, the alliance is now looking toward "Agenda 2030." According to its announcement, "New advanced manufacturing technologies offer considerable potential to benefit the U.S. pulp and paper industry by 2030." An aggressive R&D effort costing $150 million per years is needed to pursue the Agenda 2030 vision.

Chuck Swann is the senior editor of Paperitalo Publications. He can be reached by email at chuck.swann@taii.com.

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