Pilot Plant Upgrade

Pilot Plant
Advanced Integrated Control

The UMaine Process Development Center (PDC) has completed a major upgrade to its pilot plant located at Jenness Hall on the Orono campus. The PDC has expanded its ability to perform pilot-scale research throughout all phases of pulp and paper manufacturing – from raw material to coated specialty papers and fiber products. This new capability makes the PDC one of the few facilities in North America where raw material can be completely converted into sufficient quantities of finished product for test market evaluations – all under one roof.

New Distributed Control System. The centerpiece of the pilot plant upgrade is a state-of-the-art distributed control system. The new control system, Honeywell’s Experion MX, provides superior visibility into the entire papermaking process. The system’s integrated distributed and quality controls allow operators to monitor all critical process parameters in one display. This upgrade helps the PDC to more efficiently scale-up and commercialize new products and processes.

Data Collection and Historian System.  A complete data collection and management system, donated to the PDC by OSIsoft, Inc., was installed in parallel to the new supervisory control system and is now fully operational. The PI System is the industry standard in enterprise infrastructure for management of time series data and events. The system safeguards data and has many advantages including optimizing process improvements within real-time infrastructure systems. Our new PI system now provides state-of-the-art performance management and offers the PDC and its research partners access to the event-data needed for innovative research and development.

Web Pilot Coater/Laminator. The application of coatings to the surface of substrates is a primary means of adding value and functionality to webs of paper, foil, or composites. The upgraded coating capacity at the PDC, featuring our new Pilot Laboratory Coater, is engineered to coat commercially made base papers or specialty base papers produced on our pilot paper machine using a variety of coating application methods. The new Pilot Laboratory Coater at UMaine offers a broad range of coating applications for:

  • Paper, films, foils and non-wovens
  • Applications for specialized composite materials
  • Trailing blade or rod coating

Flexible, three-roll coating specifications include:

  • Configurations for web processing at up to 12 inches in width
  • Speeds up to 100 fpm
  • Non-contact, hot air drying
  • Equipped with a laminating station

Chemical and Coating Preparation Upgrade.  The PDC upgrade has also included significant upgrades to the chemical and coating preparation areas. Upgrades include new additive make-down, mixing, storage and metering equipment, as well as on-line charge measurement.

The Infrastructure Improvement Project has been a private-public partnership with many companies and individuals donating time and equipment to support the upgrade. The PDC upgrade was supported by a State of Maine research and development bond, through the Maine Technology Asset Fund (MTAF) and administered by the Maine Technology Institute (MTI).