Each November, the University of Toronto’s Pulp & Paper Centre coordinates and hosts the annual, three-day Effective Energy and Chemical Recovery in Pulp and Paper Mills Research Consortium review conference, bringing together over 100 attendees from academia and industry.
The Consortium is led by a team of multidisciplinary research leaders including professors Grant Allen (ChemE), Markus Bussmann (MIE), Nikolai DeMartini (ChemE), Honghi Tran (ChemE), and Nathan Basiliko from Laurentian University.
The Consortium is supported by 26 industry partners across Canada, the United States, Brazil, Chile, the United Kingdom, Finland and Sweden, making it’s impact international in reach and scope.
Faced with organizing the conference online this year, the Consortium found new methods of engaging participants and presenting research across its four strategic areas including, evaporator fouling, recovery and biomass boilers, recaust and lime kiln, and mill waste process utilization.
“We had to think of an online delivery strategy that gave all students an opportunity to present their findings, as would typically be done in-person,” says Mandeep Rayat, Consortium project manager. “We decided to pre-record our research presentations and post them online ahead of the conference and upload the presentations over four weeks.”
By pre-recording the presentations, attendees could watch the research presentations at their convenience. It also enabled those who may not have been able to travel to Toronto to attend and participate. As a result, over 250 academia and industry partners attended the meeting with over 130 participants per session – a conference first.
“One of the most important outcomes of the Consortium is the interactions with industry partners and getting their questions, input and finding out what research they find most useful,” says Professor Nikolai DeMartini, Consortium lead. “While that was more challenging this year, we received increased engagement by making the presentations more accessible to a wider audience and received overwhelming support and positive feedback from industry partners.”
Fifteen graduate students from U of T Engineering participated and presented their research at the conference, catching the attention of several industry leaders.
“I’m very proud of our students for their hard work leading up to the conference – their presentations received significant interest from industry partners, which is a true testament to their leading-edge research,” says DeMartini.