The Chemical Structure, Dynamics and Mechanisms Program supports Professor Raymond C. Francis at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry with this Grant Opportunity for Academic Liaison with Industry (GOALI) award. He will work with Dr. Aaron Levitt, a Research Associate at Andritz, Inc. Professor Francis will work to further enhance energy recovery from pulping effluent or black liquor (BL), which contains 45-55% of the original chip mass from the pulping process and has a relatively high caloric value. Energy recovery is hampered by high sulfur content, thus, the overall aim is to further investigate the non-sulfur NaOH/anthraquinone process (soda/AQ or SAQ) and more specifically to try to understand why SAQ pulps are more difficult to bleach than kraft pulps. A detailed study of the bleachability problem has led to improvements in the SAQ process where new approaches may lead to a commercially viable process.
With the support of the Chemical Structure, Dynamics and Mechanisms Program in the Chemistry Division at the National Science Foundation, Dr. Raymond C. Francis will demonstrate how society would benefit if more energy were to be produced from wood and other biomass (CO2-neutral sources) and by a reduction in the emission of reduced sulfur compounds into the environment. Development of new mechanisms, techniques and analytical tools that can be used by the entire scientific community is also likely to result from the research. The NSF funding would directly and indirectly help to educate and train graduate students in the critical area of process modifications to increase energy and chemical production from wood and other biomass that are abundant. Professor Francis presently supervises four PhD and one MSc students, including a black male and a female who should both graduate with PhD degrees by August 2011. He has also graduated three females with MSc degrees since May 2008 and all three have enjoyed great success since then. NSF funding would assist the university co-PI in continuing to disseminate new knowledge through publications and conferences and to attract industry support. Nine refereed publications have been achieved since the program started in March 2006 and numerous presentations have been made at International Conferences.