The project, recently announced by federal Industry Minister John Manley at the laboratory in UBC's Discovery Park, will see up to $9 million in repayable contributions invested by the federal government. The pulp and paper industry is contributing an additional $27 million.
Jim Wearing, associate director at PAPRICAN's Vancouver laboratory, said the project will further encourage the efforts of a number of UBC researchers who work in close collaboration with PAPRICAN.
"We feel that we can't do everything," Wearing said. "So if we can get Canadian researchers working on the problems, particularly at UBC where we try to encourage work on the longer term and more fundamental issues, their research complements the work we're doing."
PAPRICAN estimates that the project, including research and development investment, will total $88.5 million over five years.
Described by the Canadian Pulp and Paper Association as "one of the largest research projects of its kind in the world," the project will look into the development of closed cycle technologies. The strategic aim of the research is to achieve paper mills which generate virtually no effluent.
Among the UBC researchers involved will be Chemical Engineering Assoc. Prof. Peter Englezos, who studies the behavior of ions in pulp and paper process streams; Civil Engineering Assoc. Prof. Eric Hall, who works on waste water treatment; and Chemical Engineering Prof. Paul Watkinson, who is working on converting lignin--a byproduct of the pulp process--into a fuel.
Prof. Martha Salcudean, who holds the Weyerhaeuser Industrial Research Chair in Computational Fluid Dynamics, has led mathematical modelling of processes that continue to make an important contribution to research in the area, Wearing said.
Salcudean said the funding is a step in the right direction.
"It's very important for this industry to respond positively to environmental concerns," she said. "And I'm a strong believer that the forest industry is very important to Canada, and particularly to B.C. Any work that would increase our competitive positions vis-à-vis other countries is of extreme importance."
PAPRICAN, a non-profit research and educational organization, operates research laboratories in Vancouver and Pointe Claire, Quebec, in addition to educational and postgraduate research programs at McGill University, the École Polytechnique in Montreal, and the UBC Pulp and Paper Centre.