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Chemical and Paper Engineering




  • Spring 2023

    Presentations will take place at Floyd Hall in room D-208.

    Comparison of Options for the Repair or Replacement of a Calender Stack 

    8 to 8:25 a.m. 

    Team members

    • Kourtney Keranen 
    • Isabel Lopez 
    • Liam Powell 
    • Olivia Price 
    •  Zhenqiang Zhuo 


    • Paul DeHaan, B.S.’88, New-Indy Containerboard 
    • Chandler Thomas, New-Indy Containerboard

    Faculty advisor

    • James Springstead, Ph.D.

    Hydraulic pressing, also known as calendering, improves the uniformity, thickness, and smoothness across a sheet of paper. An economic analysis was performed to determine the best option between adding a new calender stack, rebuilding a legacy calender stack, or continuing to operate without one. The overall safety and environmental constraints of implementing a new calender stack were also taken into consideration. Calendered paper improves runnability at converting facilities which reduces customer dissatisfaction and revenue lost to quality claims. This analysis can be used to provide guidance on the implementation of a calender stack.

    Air Pre-heat System Optimization for Flash Dryers 

    8:30 to 8:55 a.m.

    Team members

    • Harold Liz Liriano 
    • Sophia Marie Louden 
    • Tyler Logan Matta 
    • Valeri Pamela Perez Sanchez 
    • Steven Jose Santos Cruz


    • Donald L. Larson, Primient 
    • Drake Schafer, Primient 
    • Emily Struble, Primient  

    Faculty Advisor

    • James Springstead, Ph.D.

    A corn processing facility faced high energy costs due to natural gas use in its flash dryers. A heat recovery system was implemented with two heat exchangers to transfer heat from a hot waste stream to a glycol loop, to preheat the air entering the dryers. Optimal flow rates of glycol were determined, and pump capacity evaluated to maximize heat recovery. The result was a reduction in energy costs, with an estimated payback and internal rate of return calculated for the modifications. This demonstrated how proper heat recovery systems can reduce energy consumption and costs in industrial processes.

    Precipitated Calcium Carbonate – Low Cost Means to Increase Solids 

    9 to 9:25 a.m.

    Team members

    • Christopher Bradshaw
    • Rowan Edmonds
    • Ethan Klaiss
    • Tyler Thompson


    • Leslie McLain, Imerys
    • Perry Veal, Imerys  

    Faculty advisor

    • James Springstead, Ph.D.

    Precipitated calcium carbonate (PCC) is manufactured at low solids and is usually delivered via pipeline to the customer. However, in some cases, PCC is sold off site within a short geographic distance. Higher solids are desirable in order to increase inventory/ ton of slurry and avoid excess freight costs incurred by shipping excess water in the product. The PCC at the target plant is produced at 20% solids, and this project explored various options to increase the solids up to 30% prior to shipment via slurry truck. This project also investigated the re-suspension behavior of PCC at higher solids.

    Application of New Coating to Replace Poly Liner 

    9:30 to 9:55 a.m.

    Team members

    • Hannah Kalleward
    • Lindsey Lovato
    • Isabelle Ownby
    • Andrew Siegfried
    • Sheridan Wood


    • John Brown, StenCo LLC
    • Jim Fogg, Solenis LLC  

    Faculty advisor

    • James Springstead, Ph.D.

     Current liner produced by a mill is sent to Canada for a barrier coating, which is then sent back to multiple facilities in the U.S. This process has high shipping costs as well as sustainability issues with the coating. This project explores a new coating that is more environmentally friendly and can be applied to the board in the mill. This new barrier coating was investigated, and the economics of these systems were looked at and evaluated for profitability. Applications outside of the facility will also be considered. 

    API Drying and Packaging Technology Upgrades  

    10 to 10:25 a.m.

    Team members

    • Saleh Altissan
    • Clarissa Gonzalez Chacin
    • Nicholas Marentette
    • Jennifer Parker                         
    • Destiny Washington


    • Zachary Marentette, B.S.’19, Pfizer
    • Nicholas Muller, M.S.’17, Pfizer
    • Carl Stachew, Pfizer
    • Zachary Wolf, B.S.’15, Pfizer

    Faculty advisor

    • James Springstead, Ph.D.

    Certain classes of APIs require higher levels of containment during handling. This project explored upgrades and new technology to improve currently used systems. The upgrades will include containment during drying and packaging while maintaining required ergonomic, industrial health, and GMP requirements.  Design of this system and a full economic analysis will be performed for these upgrades.

    Automating Active Clay Testing of Green Sands For Use in Foundries    

    10:30 to 10:55 a.m.

    Team members

    • Ethan Church
    • David Hanson
    • Weston Judd
    • Max Vreman
    • Rachel Zawerucha

    Faculty advisors

    • James Springstead, Ph.D.
    • Sam Ramrattan, Ph.D.

    Active clay measurement is critical for the proper operation of green sand molds; the traditional methylene blue titration method for measuring clay content is slow and prone to operator error. An automated device was designed to improve the measurement of active clay in green sands using UV-Vis spectroscopy and reduce human involvement. This device accurately provides a quantitative active clay measurement that foundry operators can use for process control and optimization. The production, costs, and benefits of this new device are analyzed and compared to the traditional active clay method.

    Bio-Mass to Bio-Oil Reactor System Comparison  

    11 to 11:30 a.m. 

    Team members

    • Ashlin Arnett
    • Nicholas Hayes
    • Tyler Hong
    • Ethan Ray
    • Angel Torres

    Faculty advisor

    • Abdus Salam, Ph.D.
    Biomass is produced in multiple industries and can be converted to a usable fuel substitute for petroleum. A proposed alternative process to conventional pyrolysis, operating with companion coal gasification, offers several potential advantages that may allow for a simpler design of the biomass pyrolysis reactor and potentially significant savings in terms of total energy costs.  Several methods of analyzing the pros and cons of these two methods were used, including a cash flow table, process flow diagram, and economic indicator values. This can allow for a greater use of bio-oil to offset the increasing demand for damaging oil harvesting practices.

    Mass-Production of an Influenza mRNA Vaccine 

    11:30 to 11:55 a.m.

    Team members

    • Zaid Ahmed
    • Heather Gipe
    • Hunter Shulfer
    • E Hern Tan

    Faculty advisor

    • James Springstead, Ph.D.

    Recently, mRNA vaccines have been produced to fight the COVID pandemic.  Historically, influenza vaccine has been produced with the use of cells, but mRNA vaccines offer promise, potentially lowering cost of production without the use of cells and increasing efficacy.   In this project new technical information on effectiveness of a potential influenza vaccine will be implemented in the design of a plant to produce an influenza vaccine.  The internal rate of return, payback period, and other key economic indicators will be determined at different price points for the sale of this future vaccine. 

    Generation of Electricity for a Paper Plant 

    1:30 to 1:55 p.m.

    Team members

    • Tobi Oluwaseyi Da-Silva
    • Paola Diaz Fernandez
    • Joshua Wetzel
    • Jeff Woodin

    Faculty advisor

    • Said AbuBakr, Ph.D.

    The 50 MW generation of electricity was assessed for a paper plant. The facility purchased electricity from a local nuclear plant at a cost of $0.165/kW, but that plant was closing. A power plant was designed within specifications and constraints, to generate its own electricity by a natural gas method and investigated the feasibility of renewable energy. The basic Rankine cycle for the plant was outlined and modified by adding a heat recovery system and a gas turbine; creating the cogeneration cycle. Wind, solar, and nuclear energy sources were also investigated for feasibility, the benefit of self-sufficiency, and cost savings.

    Production of Gel-Capsule Pharmaceuticals  

    2 to 2:25 p.m.

    Team members

    • Madeline Baldovino
    • Christopher Hranchook
    • Alexis Lynn Kaczanowski
    • Daniel Kent
    • Nathan Kitler

    Faculty advisors

    • Mert Atilhan, Ph.D.
    • James Springstead, Ph.D.

    Insoluble active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) without solubilization in an effective drug delivery system. For safe and effective drug delivery, this vehicle must be a biocompatible compound that allows for effective transport in the body. Deep eutectic solvents (DES) have been identified as a potential drug delivery system for APIs as they are nontoxic and have the potential to increase bioavailability and efficacy. DES were incorporated into gel capsule design to increase solubility of hydrophobic drugs.  A plant was designed for the production of gel capsules with DES-solubilized API a full economic analysis was performed to determine the required sale price to reach key economic benchmarks.

    Removal of PFAS Contaminants from Water by Solvent and Filtration Techniques  

    2:30 to 2:55 p.m.

    Team members

    • Aleya Brandon
    • Anamim Horokoski
    • Abigail Maletta
    • Jordan Puah
    • Zahi Sanchez Genao 

    Faculty advisors

    • Mert Atilhan, Ph.D.
    • James Springstead, Ph.D.

    Water contamination is an increasing global issue, particularly in the Midwest region of the United States. Per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) compounds are among the many worrisome contaminants. In this project, various solvents and filtration processes were used to extract PFAS from water. The extraction efficiencies of solvents for PFAS were confirmed using high-performance liquid chromatography and mass spectroscopy. After confirming extraction efficiency, a treatment procedure was designed for integration into an existing wastewater plant. The designed process provides an option for PFAS removal while evaluating both solvent recovery and repurpose of extracted compounds.  A full economic analysis was performed to determine the cost of PFAS removal using this designed system. 

    Nanotube-Reinforced Cellulose Computer Simulations

    3 to 3:25 p.m. 

    Team members

    • Noor Abdulmuhsin A Alfaraj
    • Diego Andres Garcia
    • Joshua T VanSlambrouck
    • Australia Weatherall 

    Faculty advisor

    • Dewei Qi, Ph.D.

    Recycling paper over time degrades its mechanical strength, shortening its potential uses. Integrating nanotube-reinforced cellulose can overcome the challenges presented as nanotubes possess a high amount of mechanical strength. Computer simulations using Visual Molecular Dynamics showed in theory that inserting nanotubes in the chemical structure of cellulose improved the strength of recycled paper. Modifying cellulose led to outstanding results, thereby it can lead the industry to replace the current methods of reinforcing paper which is made with chemicals. The shift to nanotube-reinforced cellulose as a method to increment recycled paper mechanical strength improved the quality of the paper.  A process was designed to produce nanotube-reinforced cellulose and the required sale price to reach required IRR.

    Effect of Various Binders on Si-Anode Performance and Feasibility of Battery Production Plant 

    3:30 to 3:55 p.m.

    Team members

    • Sarah Beasley
    • Joel Carpenter
    • Grace Harter
    • Jacob Heinrikson
    • Derek Ronayne

    Faculty advisor

    • Qingliu Wu, Ph.D. 

    With the promise of high capacity, silicon-based materials are the most promising candidates for anodes in next-generation lithium-ion batteries (LIBs). However, the wide adoption of Si-based anodes to electrical vehicle batteries is greatly limited due to the fast capacity decay and the undermined electrode structure during the lithiation and delithiation process. Therefore, development of silicon-based anodes with a robust structure for high-performance LIBs are being studied. Particularly, various binders will be used in the silicon-based anodes, and the dependence of electrode property and battery performance on the binders will be investigated. In addition, the impact of binders on the cost of Si-based anodes will also be studied.  Finally, a full economic analysis was performed to determine required price points for the production of these batteries.

  • Fall 2022

    There are no projects scheduled from the Department of Chemical and Paper Engineering for the fall 2022 event.

  • Spring 2022

    Manufacturing the Next Generation of Vaccines:  Using mRNA technology in Influenza Vaccine

    Influenza is responsible for 17,000 to 51,000 deaths in the United States every year. An FDA-approved vaccine that is flexible to address the annual influenza strains, or a pandemic strain would prevent severe illness and deaths. To address this need, our group has designed a manufacturing process for a new mRNA-based influenza vaccine using Aspen.  Key economic variables for this process, including return on investment and internal rate of return have been determined. This new vaccine is predicted to have a higher efficacy rate than the current vaccine, potentially reducing annual morbidity and mortality from influenza.

    Team members

    • Sarah Munson
    • Josh Nickless
    • Karen Ophoff
    • David Ruszkowski
    • Jake Seelinger

    Faculty advisor

    • Dr. James Springstead

    Analysis and Recovery of Commercial Precipitated Calcium Carbonate Plant Waste Streams

    The production of precipitated calcium carbonate from naturally occurring lime results in the creation of two substantial waste products, called grit and cake, which is currently disposed of as waste. These waste streams were analyzed to identify options for alternative usage resulting in potential cost reductions for the facility. Analytical characterization includes waste stream organic and inorganic composition as well as particle size distribution and moisture content. The group will determine an alternate plan for handling the waste streams and estimate key economic variables, including payback period, return on investment and internal rate of return in Maine.

    Team Members:
    Ayesha Amin
    William Barringer
    Brittney Butt
    Sabrina K Mierzwinski
    Matthew Reeves
    Leslie McLain, Imerys
    Edson Ferreira, Imerys
    Philippe Fournier-Belanger, Imerys
    Faculty Advisor:
    Dr. James Springstead

    Comparison of Bio-mass to Bio-oils Reactor System: Direct Conversion vs. Companion Coal Gasification

    With the increasing demand to switch from a non-renewable to a renewable fuel source, a shift from petroleum to bio-mass converted to bio-oils as a fuel substitute that is economically sustainable is needed. A comparison of direct conversion of bio-mass to bio-oil and companion conversion with coal gasification as a simultaneous reaction has been completed with results on which of these two choices is more sustainable both environmentally and economically. This project has been completed theoretically using Aspen Plus V11 simulations software to produce results as related to the technical aspects of the project. An economic analysis and comparison of all project parameters has been completed, detailing the feasibility and potential for real-world application. The results produced from this complete analysis of each potential option will provide insight into possible future fuel replacement options with the intention of protecting the Earth’s climate and mitigating climate change impacts directly related to fuel production and consumption.

    Team Members:
    Ayla Aktan
    Dominic Chirillo
    Luci Evans
    Mika Greening
    Aaron Kischnick
    Faculty Advisor:
    Dr. Abdus Salam

    Computer Simulations of Flexible Fiber in a 3D Tube Flow

    As fluids are transported through piping, friction arises between the walls and the fluid. This friction is often compensated for by increasing the energy input. The team simulated fiber motion in a Poiseuille flow at Reynolds numbers ranging from ten to several hundred. Understanding the correlation of Reynolds number to fiber motion makes it possible to determine the optimum Reynolds number for low energy usage.  The results of these simulations will be used to tune operating conditions.  Additionally, economic impacts will also be estimated.

    Team Members:
    Charles Fromm
    Zachary Hansen
    Kristofer Nouhan
    Chase Roberts
    Jessica Tocco
    Faculty Advisor:
    Dr. Dewei Qi

    Fractionation of Wood Chips with Low Energy Use

    Corn stover is a widely accessible and multi-faceted product in North America, making up half of corn production. Recently, there has been developments in using corn stover to make sugar products, being that there is 37% cellulose within the stover. The extraction is achieved by first using a pretreatment followed by an enzymatic hydrolysis. There currently are no industrial processes for this extraction from corn stover. An Aspen + simulation was performed, presenting yields of sugars, recycle rates, and cost analysis. This new process will revolutionize practices surrounding corn production to maximize profitability.

    Team Members:
    Daniel Garreton
    Mitch McCann
    Taarshwen Muralidharan
    Jenn Wien
    Faculty Advisor:
    Dr. Qiang Yang

    Investigations on the Effect of Binders on the Performance of Si-Based Anodes of Lithium-Ion Batteries

    With the incremental demand on energy, the capacity of lithium-ion batteries is becoming a concern. A novel material – Silicon – was chosen to improve the efficiency of modern batteries, due to its high capacity and low working potential. Polyacrylic Acid, Polyvinylidene Fluoride, Nafion, and Sodium Carboxyl Methylcellulose were selected as the binders to prepare a high-performance Si-based anode. Battery cells were assembled after the preparation of each anode and tested to compare the performance of each binder. Finally, intricate data analysis techniques and calculations revealed the best binder option for the Si-based anode.  Economic implications of incorporating this technology into manufacturing will also be analyzed.

    Team Members:
    Maria Araujo
    Maruj Jamal
    Vladimir Pavón Garcia
    Chris Rohen
    Jorge Vicco Mateo
    Faculty Advisor:
    Dr. Qingliu Wu

    Production of Gel-capsule Pharmaceutical with Improved Bioavailability

    Common over-the-counter active pharmaceutical ingredients (API), such as ibuprofen and lidocaine, have limited solubility in water, affecting drug loading and manufacturing cost. Furthermore, the drug delivery vehicles that are used to carry such API have limited mass transfer capacity when these drugs are administered. There is a lot of ongoing research to discover novel solvents that have the potential to enhance drug solubility and can be used as new delivery vehicles. A combination of molecular simulation software, ORCA, Gaussian and COSMO-RS, was used to design nontoxic, biocompatible deep eutectic solvents (DES) that can be considered as an alternative drug solubilizers to address this issue. Simulation results suggest that novel DES can improve the solubility, bioavailability, enhance the release time of hydrophobic API, and lead to an important role in research of hydrophobic drug delivery, assuming that a set of novel solvents pass through clinical trials. Based on these new findings, a full theoretical manufacturing plant will be designed and an estimated cost for the new capsules will be calculated. Important economic indicators, such as rate of return and internal rate of return, will also be estimated.

    Team Members:
    Noora Alshualah
    Rafa Campos
    Nazneen Kolah
    Faculty Advisors:
    Dr. Mert Atilhan
    Dr. James Springstead

    Production of a Monoclonal Antibody Biopharmaceutical for the Treatment of Coronavirus

    The monoclonal antibody, Sotrovimab, was produced as a therapeutic to prevent hospitalization or death of patients suffering from coronavirus. Alternative methods for treating high-risk coronavirus patients are desperately needed. Studies have shown that Sotrovimab greatly reduced hospitalization and death for patients suffering from mild to moderate symptoms. The main objective of this project was to design a plant that could produce Sotrovimab and analyze the plants' key economic factors. Through the utilization of Aspen Plus computer software and the analysis of existing patents, an optimized fed-batch process for producing Sotrovimab was developed.

    Team Members:
    CJ Conroy
    Lauren Cuddeback
    Eric Gaudreau
    Richard Gohier
    Jose Sanchez
    Faculty Advisor:
    Dr. James Springstead

    Production of an Instrument for the Analysis of Green Sands to be Used in Foundries

    One growing need in the modern foundry is the integration of real time data analysis into process control. A device was designed to measure the amount of active clay in foundry sand in an accurate and timely manner. This is achieved by measuring the amount of dye the sand will absorb using UV-vis spectroscopy. The device accurately measures and mixes an amount of sand and dye. The dye is then filtered and subject to a UV-vis measurement.  The device produces results faster and more accurately than the current standard and does not require higher education to operate.  The main goals of this group will be to design a plant to produce this machine and estimate key economic variables, including return on investment and internal rate of return for the production of this instrument.

    Team Members:
    Nate Bos
    Adam Coe
    Thomas Hubert
    Muaaz Khalid
    Tyler Schrauben
    Faculty Advisor:
    Dr. James Springstead

    Extraction of Carbon Dioxide from the Atmosphere

    The continuous rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration has become a global concern as it is the leading cause of climate change. A Direct Atmospheric Carbon Extraction (DACE) process was designed to capture CO2 directly from the atmosphere. A chemical absorbent regeneration process was used to capture the CO2, followed by a separation and pressurization of the CO2 for sequestration injection. The DACE system provides insight into the technological and economic feasibility of direct air capture and the potential it has for lowering atmospheric CO2 concentrations.

    Team Members:
    Anas Alorfi
    Keaton Connelly
    Kory Kowalski
    Hui En Liaw
    Matthew Render
    Faculty Advisor:
    Peter Parker

    Steam Systems in Paper Production

    A paper company analyzed the steam generation system for an expansion project that will deliver higher production. Production and paper data were combined with computer models to determine the present and future steam demand. This demand was then compared with the existing Steam generation and steam distribution capacity to verify the adequacy of present utility infrastructure.  Opportunities for improving the thermal system efficiency were identified and equipment sizing was done to help in technical and commercial feasibility analysis. Overall, expected profit from increased production was compared to present costs to determine possible economic benefits for the paper company.

    Team Members:
    Saud Al Kharusi
    Yousef Alsaad
    Avery McKinney
    Willis Seifert
    Prathamesh Ternikar, Armstrong
    Andrew Witteck, Armstrong
    Faculty Advisor:
    Peter Parker

    Modular Distributed Ammonia Synthesis

    Ammonia based fertilizer currently sustains the food supply for half of the world's population; just in the U.S. around 85% of the total ammonia produced is used as fertilizer. Most of the large-scale suppliers are far from the principal consumers so transportation cost is significant. A plant to produce 50 metric tons of ammonia per day in the upper Midwest was designed and studied, evaluating the economics of a small-scale ammonia plant to minimize product cost for the principal crop producers of the country.

    Team Members:
    Loay Al Harmali
    Fadhl Almesbah
    Othman Alnajem
    Rakan Alwasifer
    Lia Grullon Campusano
    Faculty Advisor:
    Peter Parker

Previous projects

Spring 2021 projects