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Industry/government partnership targets new energy strategies; Agenda 2020 and the Office of Industrial Technology of the Department of Energy have for several years spearheaded a research program to determine if pulp and paper mills can pull the plug on their heavy energy use. So far the results are promising.

A major role for me at Georgia-Pacific is to ensure the use of the proper design concepts on major projects such as Cluster Rule compliance and new tissue capacity. Another major role is to assist operations to achieve the quality and cost positions demanded by industry. I also represent Georgia-Pacific on the Agenda 2020 Group of AF&PA.

Agenda 2020 began in 1994 when several major forest products companies agreed to participate with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to achieve goals that would lead to "mills of the future." (The term 2020 came later.) The pulp and paper industry formed an ad hoc group of chief technology officers (CTOs) led by Del Raymond from Weyerhaeuser and Ron Estridge of James River, followed by Eli Karter from Mead. Initially, six task force committees were to define roadmaps to the desired future state. These groups worked with the Industries of the Future group at DOE (JOF/DOE) then led by Denise Swink. While the roadmaps themselves did not create any direct movement toward the future, they were a major accomplishment. These roadmaps were available on the AF&PA and DOE websites for all to use and suggest upgrades.

The CTO Group of Agenda 2020 consisted of selected technology officers from member companies and the two co-chairs of each task group. I have been a member of the CTO group because I was co-chair of the Capital Effectiveness Task Group that is now the Breakthrough Technologies Task Group.

The CTO committee currently works with the Office of industrial Technology of DOE, Biomass Technology, the Forest Service, National Science Foundation, and various forestry and wood products organizations to select priorities and issue requests for proposals (RFP) for required research projects to realize the Agenda 2020 technology strategy. The RFPs go to universities, the DOE National Laboratory System (which I think is a hidden treasure of the United States), and other interested parties.

Research awards are made to all top proposals that fit into the DOE budget of a particular year. Each award receives funding by the agency to a maximum of 80% for research projects and a maximum of 50% for large-scale field trials. A building products company, pulp and paper company, or a valued supplier provides the remainder. In kind contributions are permissible.

From 1994 to 2001, this process was quiet, but outstandingly successful. The total funding grew from less than US$ 5 million to more than US$ 50 million per year for necessary research. Projects have grown from laboratory "proof of concept" tests to mill trials such as borate autocausticizing and demonstrations such as black liquor gasification.

In late 2000, the AF&PA Chief Executive Officers Group reviewed the Agenda 2020 accomplishments and upgraded goals for the program. One upgrade was to focus on larger projects that no single company would dare to undertake alone. The projects that would make a difference were called "Breakthrough Technologies."

Unknown at that time, the DOE was deciding to focus on "Grand Challenges." These were larger projects that could save energy that might have measurement in quads--a thousand trillion BTUs. These concepts mirror each other and are now the focus of the Agenda 2020-government partnership.

The second upgrade to the program resulted in adding task groups to focus on a technology advanced workforce and new materials from forest-based products. The accompanying box shows the co-chairs for new 2020 structure.

A new Agenda 2020 business plan was developed and approved. This plan creates a small initial staff to do the following:

* Gain additional sources of funding and create new alliances

* Increase selection and management of projects

Identify and focus on Breakthrough Technologies/Grand Challenges

* Create models and pathways to increase the rate of commercialization.

To facilitate this change, Weyerhaeuser has donated a large amount of Raymond's time, MeadWestvaco donated some of John Huyck's time, and now Georgia-Pacific will donate half my time for the remainder of 2003 and most of my time for the first half of 2004.

I am thrilled at this for many reasons. One is that it gives me an opportunity to give back to an industry that has done so much for my family and me over the years. Another is that it allows me to work closely with a dedicated group of highly talented individuals in Agenda 2020, DOE, the National Laboratories, valued suppliers, and AF&PA. In a sense, I can "rub shoulders" with the "best of the best."

Let me conclude by offering one vision of the future that the Agenda 2020 group is developing. In first principle language, current pulp mills are "bio-refineries." The Tomlinson furnace limits the "products" to fibers and steam. This has confined the pulp and paper segment of our industry to products made from fibers (pulp and paper) and steam (drying power and electricity),

When the industry deploys black liquor gasification, another mix of products will emerge over time. The hydrogen-rich "off-gas" vastly improves the flexibility of our biorefineries. The first opportunity might be to use this off-gas to drive gas turbines. When a gasification/turbine platform completely replaces Tomlinson and hog fuel furnaces, we can generate approximately an additional 28 gigawatts of renewable (green) power--more than a typical public utility generates.

If demanded by markets, we can add the Fischer-Tropch process (or better) to produce liquid fuels. This could displace as much as 282 million barrels of oil per year according to a DOE/industry study slated for publication shortly.

Finally, an opportunity exists to produce and sell pure hydrogen or use molecular engineering to create hydrogen-based products. The key to all this is to upgrade and add flexibility to our current bio-refineries. Perhaps in the bio-refineries of the future, fiber will be the by-product. That would indeed be a "new world." S!


* The origins of Agenda 2020 and the DOE's Industries of the Future program

* How the paper industry is supporting this vital research program

* Current and future benefits from the programs


* Department of Energy, Office of Industrial Technology web site

* AF&PA Agenda 2020 web site:

Setting the Industry Technology Agenda: The 2001 Forest, Wood and Paper Industry technology Summit, edited by Gerard Closset, published by TAPPI. To order this publication, go to and type in "Setting the Industry Technology Agenda" in the search engine.

CTO Del Raymond - Weyerhaeuser

Sustainable Forest Productivity Peter Farnum - Weyerhaeuser Al Lucier- NCASI

Breakthrough Technologies in Fiber Ben Thorp - Georgia-Pacific Alexander Koukoulas - International Paper David Turpin - MeadWestvaco

Fiber Recycling Tom Friberg - Weyerhauser Terry Gerhadt - Sonoco

Improved Energy Performance Paul Tucker - International Paper

Superior Environmental Performance Dan Sjolseth - Weyerhaeuser Reid Miner - NCASI

New Forest-Based Materials Tom Amidon - State University of New York

Technologically Advanced Workforce Harry Cullinan - Auburn University Denny Crumpler - MeadWestvaco

Wood/Composite Technologies Ed Price - Georgia-Pacific George Woodson - Weyerhaeuser Buddy Showalter - AF&PA

Editor's Note: Georgia-Pacific Corp has named Ben Thorp, its director pulp and paper process engineering and the author of this article, to be a "loaned-executive" to the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) and its Agenda 2020 project. Headquartered at Atlanta, Georgia, USA, Georgia-Pacific is a leading manufacturer of tissue, packaging, paper, building products, pulp, and related chemicals.

Author's Note: I am indebted to Mike Tuchalski, vice president-engineering, and Pete Correll, chairman and CEO, for allowing me this great opportunity.

About the Author: Benjamin A. Thorp, III is director of pulp & paper engineering for Georgia-Pacific Corp., Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Thorp previously served in manufacturing technology with Chesapeake Corp., process technology and engineering with James River Corp, engineering with BE&K, establishing a joint venture consulting firm with Poyry-BEK, Inc. and research technology and various positions with Huyck Corp. He currently serves on the Paper Industry Management Association (PIMA) board, and as a member of the independent advisory board of ForestWeb, on the IAB for CPBIS, Peregrine Energy and MTCI, the Chief Technology Officers Committee of AF&PA, and the research advisory committee for IPST. Thorp was named a TAPPI Fellow in 1986, received the TAPPI Paper & Board Division Leadership Award in 1994, the PIMA Glen T. Reneger Award in 1999, end was named to the PIMA Leadership Council in 2000. Thorp is the holder of six U.S. patents.
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Title Annotation:Energy
Author:Thorp, Ben
Publication:Solutions - for People, Processes and Paper
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2003
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