This report describes a case study performed by RAND and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory on government-industry research and development (R&D) aimed at solving materials problems encountered by the forest products industry. The principal problem addressed by the R&D was the failure of tubes that carry water and steam inside boilers used to recover chemicals during papermaking. These recovery boilers are an essential component of the papermaking process because, in addition to providing recycled chemicals to the wood digester, they also provide a significant portion of the process steam and electricity required for plant operation. The industry estimates that, on average, for each day a recovery boiler is shut down, a company loses $300,000. The government-industry team performed a systematic analysis, resulting in the recommendation of two possible solutions to the problem. This case study illuminated a number of critical factors in successfully solving industrial process problems through R&D that should guide future efforts.
The research described in this report was conducted by RAND Science and Technology for the Industrial Materials for the Future Program, Industrial Technologies Program of the U.S. Department of Energy.
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