Alums get schooled in papermaking

Steven Keller introduces alumni to papermaking

Steven Keller introduces alums to paper science       

Paper science and engineering is the oldest engineering and computing program at Miami.

In addition to geographic reasons to have a program here--neither wood nor water is scarce--paper students have great job prospects, great salaries, and, as Miami has one of just eight program in the country, paper companies need Miami grads to help modernize their business and replace those who are retiring.

But what is paper science?

At the 2018 Alumni Conference’s “Classes without Quizzes”, Steven Keller, professor in the chemical, paper, and biomedical engineering department, taught returning alumni what paper science is, and why it is important.

With books, magazines, and newspapers transitioning to an online format, one might think the paper industry is declining. In fact, the opposite is true.

“90 million tons of paper are produced in the US every year,” Keller said.

Keller walked the alumni through what makes paper “paper”--everything from raw lumber to weaving wood fibers together into meshes with $300 million processes. One piece of printer paper has 270,000 fibers--imagine how many fibers are in 90 million tons of paper?

To fully illustrate how technologically advanced the paper industry is, Keller showed pictures of the largest paper machine in the world, located in Hainan, China. This machine, which is 600 meters long (0.37 miles) moves paper from one end to the other at 75 miles/hour, all while removing 38,000 tons/hour of water from the pulp.

“That’s eight times the city of Cincinnati’s daily use,” Keller said.

By Paige Smith