Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

OU Energy Center Studies De-Inking Method

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

OU Energy Center Studies De-Inking Method

Article excerpt

Scientists at the University of Oklahoma Energy Center in Norman are searching for better de-inking methods in response to ecological needs and new federal mandates for greater use of recycled paper.

One of the major expenses associated with recycling paper is removing the ink from paper fibers, said John F. Scamehorn, OU professor of chemical engineering and material science and associate director of the OU Institute for Applied Surfactant Research.

"A shortage of de-inking plants in the United States already exists, and with pro-recycling legislation, there will be a tremendous increase in the number of these facilities," he said, adding that paper recycling plants could be built in Oklahoma and help the state's economy.

Current U.S. and Canadian de-inking plants mainly use a washing method, which can take 20 times as much water as the flotation method predominant in other countries. Recycling paper is an environmentally sound practice, but with clean water now recognized as a limited resource, wasting water definitely is not, said Scamehorn, who holds OU's Asahi Glass Chair in Chemical Engineering.

Scamehorn and his research team would like to see the flotation method replace the washing method in the United States, and they want to improve the efficiency of the flotation process by refining the role of surfactants in the de-inking process.

A surfactant _ or surface-active agent _ is a substance useful for its cleansing, wetting and dispersing properties that has found wide use in detergency, enhanced oil recovery, corrosion inhibition and blood substitutes.

The OU Institute for Applied Surfactant Research is the premier surfactant research facility in the country.

Scamehorn and Sherril D. Christian, OU professor of chemistry and director of the institute, have received a $40,000 grant from the Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry Foundation to study the de-inking process and find ways to make it more efficient. …

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