Lennart Vamling and Mathias Gourdon
Researchers, Infrastructure developers
Entrepreneur, infrastructure developer
Valmet Power AB (previously Metso Power AB) is a supplier of evaporators for the pulp and paper industry. For improving their knowledge on evaporation and being able to produce competitive heat efficient evaporators, Valmet has had a long relation with Chalmers. After many years of joint research, Valmet and Chalmers decided to construct a large scale experimental research evaporator at Chalmers. It was designed for the industrial needs of Valmet and instrumented to address the main technical issues that could occur in chemical mills at a wide variety of operating conditions. The research evaporator plant has now been up and running successfully since 2004 and the plant holds a world leading position for evaporation experiments.
Valmet Power AB’s representative in the research evaporation project was the technical Director at the time, Lars Olausson.
“When we started to cooperate with Chalmers we had around 7 percent of the market and our largest competitor had clearly above 50 per cent. Today we are ahead of them. Part of that achievement comes from what has been done at Chalmers and the research and knowledge we got access to. Chalmers research has added knowledge, product development, and new technologies”, Lars Olausson says.
Time is the key
One of the main reasons for this fruitful collaboration is that when the research evaporation project was initiated, Lars Olausson agreed on spending one day a week at Chalmers as an adjunct professor, engaging in academic research projects.
“At the company, I was working on technologies needed by our customers and this gave me a lot of understanding for the practical issues at the factory. At Chalmers, on the other hand, I got a deeper and more fundamental understanding of the problems, such as the chemistry behind different phenomena,” he says.
As Lars Olausson became part of two worlds, he quickly became an important link between the company and the academic researchers. He brought complex and unsolved problems from Valmet’s customers into the academic environment and out came potential solutions and new research projects. Mathias Gourdon at Chalmers describes the value of having Lars at the department:
“He knows what is practicable and possible to implement in existing processes, what will work or not.”
Bridging the gap
Being part of two worlds, Lars Olausson assumed two different roles. Firstly, he started to translate between researchers and users, because even though the research at Chalmers is much applied, there was a gap. Secondly, he brought an entrepreneurial mind-set into the research group with the ability to identify the most relevant and feasible solution to different problems in the evaporation process. As a result, they could set up a team of researchers from industry and academia, which came up with an innovative solution to a well-known problem in the pulp and paper industry – incrustations in black liquor evaporation.
Valmet and the inventors applied for a patent and the technology is currently evaluated in the research evaporation plant at Chalmers.
Text: Niklas Fernqvist
Download printable version as pdf