New Director for UBC Pulp and Paper Centre

Vancouver, Canada—March 23, 2011—Dr. James Olson, Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, has been announced as the new director for UBC’s Pulp and Paper Centre.

“He will be taking on the leadership of the center at a very critical time when the industry is at a crossroads,” says Applied Science Dean Tyseer Aboulnasr. “Dr. Olson is committed to ensuring the necessary transformation of the center and building on its current excellence. He is dedicated to working across faculties at UBC and expanding the reach of the Pulp and Paper Centre with external institutions and with industry to ensure that B.C. is best positioned to lead this transformation.”

An expert in the application of physics and fluid mechanics to problems associated with the pulp and paper industry, Olson’s current research includes reduction of energy used in mechanical pulping, modelling turbulent fibre suspensions, and high-performance energy-efficient equipment design.

He currently leads a $2.4 Million 5 year university-industry NSERC collaborative research program with BC Hydro, FPInnovations, the BC mechanical pulp producers and the key supplier industry focused on reducing energy  consumption in that sector. This research recently demonstrated a technical potential of 20% energy savings through the development of several innovative technologies. The savings potential is equivalent to 1000 GWh/yr or approximately 91,000 homes in BC

Central to a partnership between UBC, government, and the pulp and paper industry, Olson has helped develop three high-efficiency pulp screen rotors that produce high-quality product while nearly halving energy consumption. Pulp screens are an essential part of the papermaking process, removing wood particles, staples, dirt and other debris from pulp before it is made into paper or tissue. The rotor within the screen is critical to clearing the small screen slots, so that the pulp can flow through the screen. Over one hundred new rotors were installed in 30 mills across Canada and a series of BC Hydro-funded demonstration projects showed that the rotors reduced electricity consumption by approximately 50%, representing potential annual energy savings of more than $8m in B.C .alone. This partnership and innovation was recognized with the 2007 NSERC Synergy Award and the 2008 BC Innovation Council Lieutenant Governors Award for Innovation.

Olson’s work on advanced process design and optimization has also been well recognized by the industry and the technical community.  He was awarded the Van den Akker prize for paper physics from the fundamental Research Committee in 2009 for his work in low consistency refining, the Paptac Weldon medal in 2001 for his work on fibre separation process design and a second NSERC Synergy award for the development of the Optest – Fibre Quality Analyzer™ that is now the industry standard for pulp fibre analysis world-wide.

Olson will serve as director of the Pulp and Paper Centre until December 31, 2015.


ErinRose Handy
Manager, Marketing & External Communications
UBC Faculty of Applied Science
Tel: 604-822-1524