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The Department of Forest Biomaterials at NC State (FB) engages in papermaking and wet-end chemistry research into surface charge phenomena, effects of enzymes, the role of polymeric additives to the process and colloid chemical aspects of the paper manufacturing process. These projects produce industry innovations and provide students with opportunities to engage in hands-on research.

A Tradition of Innovation

Efficient operations, differentiation of paper product attributes and maintenance of product uniformity all depend on the right combination of chemical additives to the paper production system. FB has a long history of innovation in the area of ?papermaking wet end chemistry? and continues its tradition of research and teaching in this field today. Students who pursue research related to chemical aspects of paper machine performance become well versed in the principles of colloidal chemistry, surface science, macromolecular science, and in some cases, biomacromolecules or chemical engineering.

Specific areas of current research by members of the FB faculty include the following:

  • Surface charge phenomena, zeta potential, streaming potential and the science behind charge titrations.
  • The nanoporous and nanofibrillar nature of cellulose fiber surfaces and the manner in which those characteristics impact the performance of papermaking chemicals.
  • Surface-active chemicals and their role, including the nature of chemical surfactants that are derived from wood sources.
  • The effects of enzymes, including the mechanism by which they can affect rates of refining and rates of water release from paper as it is being formed.
  • The role of polymeric additives to the process, as well as colloid chemical aspects of the paper manufacturing process.
  • Colloidal aspects related to the recycling of paper, including effects of stickies, the removal of ink, and the repulping of wax-containing paper.
  • Starch-based filler particles to enhance paper optical properties and bulk.
  • Advanced dry-strength additives based on polyampholytes, macromolecules having both positive and negative ionic groups.
  • How to overcome various factors that limit the rate of dewatering on paper machines, reducing production rates or increasing the energy required to dry the paper.

For more information, please explore the websites of faculty members engaged in research projects within this area: