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November 2012

Improving energy efficiency through innovative design

Despite the fact AV Nackawic was the first prehydrolysis Kraft mill conversion in Canada, it struggled with a lack of resources given the current economic downturn. The rapidly rising cost of power has increased the importance of energy efficiency in pulp mills, and for this reason, AV Nackawic reached out to the expertise of graduate student, Rohan Bandekar from the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of New Brunswick, in order to help solve a difficult challenge for their mill.

Rohan saw AV Nackawic’s energy-efficiency problem as the perfect opportunity to develop the practical understanding of industrial processes he was missing in his academic studies.  Rising to the challenge of troubleshooting a process problem in the heat-recovery system for AV Nackawic, Rohan drew upon everything he had learned throughout his academic career and put it to practical use – turning his abstract knowledge into concrete results.

In only eight short months, Rohan, with the guidance of his supervisor Carolyn Drost, Senior Process Engineer at AV Nackawic, successfully addressed ongoing process issues that were preventing the energy-recycling system at the mill from reaching full potential.  Implications of Rohan’s success have led to savings at AV Nackawic of approximately $40 000 annually.  AV Nackawic was so impressed with his motivation and expertise that they offered him a position on their team as Junior Process Engineer, gaining a hard-working, capable employee who is passionate about his field.   “Rohan brought drive and enthusiasm to everything he did.  His success in this project has been a benefit felt by all,” reports his mentor, Carolyn.

Throughout his internship, Rohan was also able to benefit greatly by gaining hands-on industry experience, improving his public speaking abilities, and by learning more about Canadian work culture.  “Mitacs Accelerate internships provide a unique opportunity for students to step out of the academic world and get a taste of the real-life industry,” he explains, and he strongly recommends that other students take advantage of the research opportunities available through the program.

Mitacs gratefully acknowledges Industry Canada, the Networks of Centres of Excellence's Industrial Research and Development Internship program, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and the Government of New Brunswick for their support of Mitacs-Accelerate in the province.