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Room for Innovation in the Paper-Making Industry

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At Red Orbit, they highlighted an industry that needs to find the spirit of innovation. Red Orbit recently took a look at the innovation beginning to take place in the paper mill industry. There has been a push to turn current paper mill factories into biorefineries. These factories, with new technology, would be able to use more of the wood that comes into the factories. By using all the bi-products these companies are able to create more products. As a result, these process are allowing forest product companies to remain competitive, because they are able to produce and sell more products.
A biorefinery would be able to use the full amount of incoming wood biomass for the production of wood products, fibers, chemicals, and/or energy. These plants are already making other products such as vanillin and turpentine, but with new process could begin making specialty chemicals. This would, in turn, require the companies to become a more flexible, which is something that pulp and paper manufactures are not known for.
These companies are in an ideal position because they already have the know-how for harvesting and dealing with the biomass. There are some setbacks including little capital to work with, a loss of product development culture, and little knowledge of product quality requirements.
With a wave moving towards green innovation, however, these companies sit in the right position. An example comes from Wisconsin:
However, in late February 2008, the DOE pledged $30 million to a possible biorefinery project at the NewPage's Wisconsin Rapids, Wl, mill. The funding is part of $114 million approved by the DOE for four small-scale biorefinery projects. NewPage has not determined if it will follow through with the project and is still studying the total cost and potential return on investment before deciding on its feasibility. Stora Enso, the mill's former owners, proposed the project. The plant would produce 5.5 million gal/yr of FischerTropsch diesel fuel and consume about 175,000 tons of wood residue.

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