Al Ward has a message for those who think the pulp industry is a 19th century dinosaur, destined to be obliterated in the digital age. Think again, he says. When the President of Alberta-Pacific Forest Industries looks out a decade or two, he sees an industry that’s likely to be utterly transformed, producing an array of high-value products from bioenergy to biochemicals.
In fact, pulp mills will no longer be called pulp mills, he says. They’ll be known as biorefineries — the forest products industry’s equivalent of petroleum refineries. And while mills like Al-Pac’s 650,000-tonne-per-year operation 200 kilometres northeast of Edmonton will still churn out pulp as a core product, today’s low profit margins will be boosted by new products such as biodiesel and biomethanol.
Keywords: nanotechnology, kraft pulp, bioenergy, biomethanol, black liquor, nanocrystalline cellulose (NCC)
Source: Edmonton Journal, 2011-08-26.