SBIR Phase I: Terahertz hydration monitoring for paper manufacturing

Award Information
Agency: National Science Foundation
Branch: N/A
Contract: 1315846
Agency Tracking Number: 1315846
Amount: $149,999.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2013
Solicitation Year: 2012
Solicitation Topic Code: EI
Solicitation Number: N/A
Small Business Information
1240 Keystone Way, Vista, CA, 92081-8317
DUNS: 801392940
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Rahul Singh
 (310) 346-4781
Business Contact
 Rahul Singh
Phone: (310) 346-4781
Research Institution
This Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) Phase I project will focus on the design, construction, and verification of a terahertz (THz) hydration mapping system for use in paper manufacturing. THz radiation is defined as the submillimeter region of the electromagnetic spectrum, and is a relatively new and expanding area of research that promises unique imaging capabilities. THz imaging utilizes illumination from the 100 GHz to 10 THz band to generate contrast in targets unavailable to systems operating in the NIR, visible, and UV bands. THz illumination is ideally suited to nondestructive evaluation, security imaging, process control, and medical imaging for a number of reasons, including its nonionizing nature, its wavelength, its achievable broad instantaneous bandwidth, and the large real and imaginary parts of the dielectric constant of water at THz frequencies. Paper manufacturing currently lacks hydration metrology with sufficient spatial resolution and water concentration sensitivity to detect local distributions of water in drying paper products, and the current industry standard is costly and has safety concerns due to its associated ionizing radiation. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project spans several fields that rely on careful moisture control, including wood manufacturing, plastics, agriculture, chemical processing, and concrete manufacturing. This proposal will initially focus on the papermaking process, which is a very expensive, capital-intensive process. Both downtime on a paper machine and scrap paper (unwanted paper) are highly valuable. As a result, process control is key, and the ability to remove water quickly and consistently is one of the most important process control variables. Out-of-spec moisture increases downtime, reduces efficiency, increases costs, increases scrap levels, and reduces quality to the consumer. Current process control techniques are insufficient and lead to added cost, increased energy use, and a large amount of wasted paper that must be recycled or land filled. The global paper manufacturing industry is enormous, with over $130 billion in sales and nearly 100 million metric tons of product annually in the U.S. alone. Therefore, improvements in process control can result in significant reductions in global energy use, global wood consumption, and paper costs.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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