University of Maine researchers have been awarded $700,000 to develop eco-friendly particleboard panels with adhesive made of cellulose nanofibrils (CNF), as well as design a commercial-scale plant to manufacture the CNF.
With one $350,000 grant, UMaine scientists Mehdi Tajvidi, William Gramlich, Doug Bousfield, Doug Gardner and Mike Bilodeau, as well as John Hunt from the USDA Forest Service (USFS), are tasked with making strong, stiff and fully recyclable particleboard panels that can be used in countertops, door cores and furniture.
UMaine researchers taking part in the project have areas of expertise ranging from forest products to chemistry to chemical and biological engineering.
The adhesive in the particleboard will be made from CNF, rather than what has commonly been used — urea-formaldehyde. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has classified formaldehyde as a probable human carcinogen.
Cellulose nanomaterials are natural structural building units from wood; they’re 1/100,000th the width of a human hair and can be used in high-value products with superior properties, including exceptional strength.
“High-volume applications of cellulose nanomaterials, such as what we will be doing in this research, are a key step toward commercialization of these wonderful all-natural nanomaterials,” says Tajvidi, assistant professor of renewable nanomaterials in the School of Forest Resources.
“Replacing formaldehyde-based resins with a biomaterial has always been desired and we are happy this is happening at UMaine.”
University scientists say utilizing CNF in particleboard has considerable market promise, and optimizing both techniques and methodology are key to successful mass production and commercialization.
To optimize techniques and methodology, UMaine has been awarded another $350,000 to construct a commercial-scale CNF manufacturing plant with a capacity of 2 tons per day.
“This first commercial cellulose nanofibril manufacturing plant is the next phase in demonstrating the scalability of the technology,” says Bilodeau, director of the UMaine Process Development Center.
“It will accelerate commercialization of CNF by making large quantities of CNF available to support the growth in application development activities.”
Paperlogic, a Southworth Company, is a collaborator on the plant project. The CNF plant is slated to be built at Paperlogic’s mill in Turners Falls, Massachusetts; it is expected to be commissioned in late 2015.
Both projects are funded through P3Nano — a public-private partnership founded by the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities and the USFS.
The goals of the project are to commercialize cellulosic nanomaterials, create jobs and improve forest health.
Experts in business, government and academia chose to fund the UMaine proposals and seven others from 65 submissions.
Carlton Owen, chair of the P3Nano Steering Committee and president of the endowment, said in addition to creating high-value products, the research could result in jobs and improve the health of forests.
Federal matching funds are provided by the Forest Service’s State and Private Forestry and Research and Development branches and work coordinated with the USFS Forest Products Laboratory.
Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777
Six years ago, Howard Reiche Jr. started “putting things away” that he felt he could “do without” in order to devote as much time as possible to other more pressing family commitments, including caring for his beloved wife, Stevie. About six months ago, shortly after his 85th birthday, he renewed his focus on some longstanding personal goals, priorities and “unfinished business.”
“I realized I needed a change in my life,” says the Portland, Maine, native who is a long-time resident of Falmouth.
That’s when Reiche got to work on his bucket list. He dusted off his cello that, six years ago, he’d put in the corner of his office, and he started taking lessons. He took up watercolor painting again and started swimming three half-miles every week. He also renewed his 20-year passion of collecting 18th-century autographs of the original signers of the Declaration of Independence (he has 37 of the 55).
In August, he also contacted the University of Maine Graduate School to see if he could finish the master’s degree he started in 1950.
“I have a bucket list of things that I want to accomplish and this was on my list to talk to somebody about,” says Reiche. “I just needed somebody to say it might be worthwhile looking at this.”
After graduating from Bowdoin College, Reiche enrolled at UMaine in 1950 to pursue a master’s degree in zoology and study microbial genetics. He completed the two semesters of coursework, passed his final exams and was set to finish his thesis when he was told that he was supposed to have taken organic chemistry at Bowdoin prior to enrolling in the master’s program at UMaine.
“At the time, I was 21, married, with no money and the draft hanging over my head,” says Reiche. “Spending another year at UMaine to take one undergraduate course was out of the question. But it’s been on my bucket list all this time.”
Reiche left the university to take a temporary teaching position, and then spent three years as a medical services corps officer in the U.S. Air Force. Following discharge from the military, he launched what would become a 32-year career in Maine’s paper industry.
“S.D. Warren Paper Company was looking for nonengineers who had college degrees with an abundance of science and math,” Reiche says. “Four of us were hired, along with engineers from UMaine and Syracuse.”
Through the years at S.D. Warren and then Scott Paper, Reiche worked in product quality control, sales and customer service, and production. Before retiring in 1988, he was mill manager at the Westbrook, Maine, mill and a vice president in the global corporation.
He also researched and wrote books, including Closeness: Memories of Mrs. Munjoy’s Hill (2002) and The Smile of Providence: A History of Gilead, Maine 1804–2004 (coauthored in 2004).
It was that body of lifetime workplace experience that UMaine evaluated as prior learning equivalent to the few remaining credits needed to fulfill a nonthesis master’s degree. Oct. 7 in a ceremony in Falmouth, UMaine will award Reiche a Master of Professional Studies degree in Biochemistry.
“Mr. Reiche’s career in the fields of medicine, science, engineering and business, coupled with his broad body of unique experiences over a lifetime, stand as a tribute to the man and highlight the importance of maintaining interest, pursuing knowledge and giving 100 percent,” said Carol Kim, UMaine vice president for research and dean of the Graduate School. “We’re happy that, by conferring the long-overdue master’s degree on Mr. Reiche, we could help him with this important accomplishment.”
With his UMaine degree, Reiche will join a dozen other family members who are University of Maine alumni. Both of his children, Stacey and Ford, graduated with UMaine degrees in 1979 and 1976 respectively. His father and namesake graduated from UMaine with bachelor’s and master’s degrees, both in biology in 1924 and 1936, respectively, and went on to a legendary career in education. The Howard C. Reiche Community School in Portland’s West End is named for his father.
“The University of Maine has always been a part of the family,” says Reiche, whose UMaine memories include attending football games as a boy and hearing his father reminisce about putting himself through college as a member of the Harmony Hounds. “It made me very, very happy that UMaine followed up on my weird request.”
Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745
The Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions at the University of Maine will host the 7th annual Mitchell Lecture on Sustainability Oct. 2 with a talk by Harvard University’s William Clark of the John F. Kennedy School of Government. Sen. George J. Mitchell and UMaine President Susan Hunter are scheduled to make remarks.
Clark’s talk, “Mobilizing knowledge to shape a sustainable future,” will focus on strategies for linking knowledge with action to improve human well-being while protecting the planet’s life-support systems.
A pioneer in the emerging field of sustainability science, Clark will discuss how collaborations involving universities, government, the private sector and civil society are helping to tackle the challenge of sustainable development. Drawing upon lessons learned in both local and global efforts, he’ll show how university–stakeholder partnerships can accelerate the transition to a sustainable world.
The lecture will run from 1 to 2:30 p.m. at Hauck Auditorium with a reception to follow. The event is free and open to all, but tickets are required and can be obtained by calling 207.581.3244 or by making a reservation online.
William Clark is the Harvey Brooks Professor of International Science, Public Policy and Human Development and co-directs Harvard’s Sustainability Science Program. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is a recipient of a MacArthur Award, the Humboldt Prize, the Kennedy School’s Carballo Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Harvard College Phi Beta Kappa Prize for Excellence in Teaching.
Previous Mitchell Lecture speakers include the late Elinor Ostrom, winner of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Economics and the only woman to ever win the prize; Jane Lubchenco, Wayne and Gladys Valley Professor of Marine Biology at Oregon University and the first woman to serve as administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); and James Gustave “Gus” Speth, co-founder of the Natural Resources Defense Council and founder of the World Resources Institute.
The mission of the Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions is to help search for, implement and evaluate policies and practices that protect ecosystems while improving economic well-being and fostering strong communities in Maine, New England and beyond. The overall strategy for achieving the goal is to transform the creation and support of interdisciplinary teams within the university as well as working to meet the needs of stakeholders. In essence, working to link knowledge to action more effectively.
The vision for the Mitchell Lecture on Sustainability is to bring together people from across Maine who seek a clearer understanding of the economic, social and environmental challenges and opportunities we face, as well as to present constructive options that will facilitate a renewed commitment to the development of collaborative approaches to problem solving.
Contact: Tamara Field, 420.7755
“Building Sustainable Communities: International, National and Local Perspectives” is the theme of the 11th annual ESTIA conference to be held Oct. 24–25 at the University of Maine.
The goal of this year’s conference is to inform the UMaine community about international, national and local efforts in sustainability and peace by emphasizing the importance of ethics and social responsibility as foundations for community development.
Presenters include congresswoman Chellie Pingree, who has worked on sustainability and agriculture; Jan Wampler, an architecture professor at MIT who has focused on designing ecocities and spaces in urban environments; Bernard Amadei, founder of Engineers Without Borders and Science Envoy for the U.S. Department of State; Soren Hermansen and Malene Lunden, co-directors of the Samso Energy Academy in Denmark; Ceren Bogac, an environmental designer from Cyprus; and Vasia Markides, a documentary filmmaker and Famagusta Ecocity Project founder.
Several UMaine faculty and other community members are also scheduled to speak during the conference that will be held in the Wells Conference Center from 6–9:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 24 and from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 25.
Regular admission is $50 per person, $35 for students. Price includes both Friday and Saturday sessions plus a Friday reception and Saturday lunch. Registration is online.
ESTIA (Ecopeace Sustainability Training and International Affiliations) is a Maine-based ecological organization that promotes and facilitates sustainability and peace through education.
For more information or to request a disability accommodation, contact Emily Markides at 207.581.2636 or email@example.com.
Contact: Elyse Kahl, 581.3747
The Portland Press Herald interviewed Janet Fairman, an associate professor of education at the University of Maine, for the article, “Tax relief scarce in school consolidations.” Fairman, who co-wrote two studies on school reorganization in Maine, said research showed consolidation did seem to work when it came to expanding opportunities for students across the district. “Our research did not show a tremendous cost savings. One of the main reasons was districts that chose to consolidate then chose to use those savings to expand or improve educational programs for students,” she said. Fairman also said she thinks more studies are needed to evaluate the effectiveness of consolidation, both financially and academically.
The Associated Press reported the University of Maine is part of a group of scientific and academic institutions called the Northeast Consortium that is leading a research initiative about the groundfish stocks in the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank. The consortium, which includes UMaine, the University of New Hampshire, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, was given $800,000 by the federal New England Fishery Management Council for proposals related to the project, according to the report. Officials said they will give priority to proposals that seek to demonstrate ways to grant access to closed areas and increase catch of haddock without impacting cod, yellowtail flounder and windowpane flounder, the article states. Foster’s Daily Democrat and the Portland Press Herald carried the AP report.
The Portland Press Herald reported a group called Lobster Unlimited LLC is developing a product that transforms ground lobster shells into an organic pelletized soil amendment to fend off pests for use by large commercial agricultural growers and golf courses. The initiative grew from a collaboration between Bob Bayer, executive director of the Lobster Institute at the University of Maine; Cathy Billings, associate director of the Lobster Institute; UMaine senior Matthew Hodgkin; New York entrepreneur Stewart Hardison; North Carolina engineering consultant Ron Reed; and Mark Elizer, president of a Florida company that creates organic fertilizer for golf courses. “We’d like to see it trickle down to the fishermen, to bring more value to their landings,” Billings said. “If more demand is created for these other components of the lobster, and these byproducts become valuable, they could be more or as valuable as the meat and a huge boon to everyone in the industry.”
The Bangor Daily News reported on the 10th annual Rock Against Rape concert hosted by a University of Maine fraternity to raise awareness of rape and sexual assault on college campuses and to collect funds for Spruce Run-Womancare Alliance. Jeffrey Rogers, a Sigma Phi Epsilon member who helped organize this year’s event, said the group is looking to donate as much as it can. “We feel it’s a really strong issue, especially on college campuses,” he said.
Amy Fried, a political science professor at the University of Maine, was quoted in a Portland Press Herald article about Gov. Paul LePage confirming he will participate in gubernatorial debates after saying he wouldn’t share the stage with Democratic challenger U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud. Fried called LePage’s previous indecision about the debates erratic. “Politically speaking, it wasn’t working,” she said.
WABI (Channel 5) covered a peace rally held on the Bangor Waterfront over the weekend Michael Bailey, a University of Maine student, participated in the rally and spoke with WABI. “I think as a young person, I think of my future and I think of my children’s future, and I don’t want it to be one in which it’s difficult for humans to live on this planet, and I don’t want it to be one in which people are still stereotyped by their race, and I don’t want it to be one in which the poor can barely survive,” Bailey said. About 38 organizations participated in the event, according to the report.