James Olson

James Olson

Professor and Dean of the Faculty of Applied Science

B.A.Sc., Ph.D. (British Columbia), Member API, FP Innovations Professor, Member ICICS

website: Dean Profile
phone:  (604) 822-6413
email: olson@mech.ubc.ca
office: KAIS 5000


Research Interests

My research is at the intersection of fluid mechanics, machine design and material science as applied to the forest bio-products industry.

Current Research Work

  • High-value, energy-efficient mechanical pulp materials: Mechanical wood fibre production uses more than 10% of the all electrical energy produced in British Columbia. To ensure the long term competitiveness of the Canadian mechanical pulping industry, UBC has created a 5 year, $2+M multi-disciplinary research program with the goal of reducing electrical energy consumption and improving the material properties of mechanical pulp through scientific discovery and development of new processes and technology. My research emphasis is on the implementation and optimization of low-consistency (LC) refining and fibre fractionation systems to produce high-value fibre materials for product applications beyond printing papers. In addition we work with our mill and supplier partners to ensure adoption of these technologies. See https://energyreduction.ppc.ubc.ca/
  • Modelling turbulent fibre suspensions: This research is aimed at developing a mathematical model of fibre orientation and concentration in turbulent fluids that can be implemented with conventional CFD techniques. The current approach is to develop an Eulerian formulation of fibre orientation and concentration that is computationally efficient and accounts for fibre-fibre and fibre-fluid interactions.
  • Micro-Fibrillar Cellulose (MFC) development and application: Our research has shown that LC refining has been shown to be an low cost, energy efficient and industrially practical means of producing MFC materials. These LC refiner produced MFC have been used in a range of novel applications that include: paper strength additive, foam formed fibre material strength additive, micro-fibre reinforced polymer composites, etc.

Selected Publications

  • Villalba, Miguel & Olson, J. & Martinez, Mark. (2024). Understanding the limits of a screening operation. Part 1: Characterization of screen plugging. BioResources. 19. 2404-2416. (Feb 2024) 15376/biores.19.2.2404-2416
  • Reanna Seifert, Samira Gharehkhani, Daniela Vargas Figueroa, Jordan Mercuur & James Olson, Engineering the Paper Production by Combined Fiber Fractionation and Reinforcement with Micro-fibrillated Cellulose; Cellulose (Jan 2023) 1007/s10570-023-05053-7
  • Michael A. Bilek, Wilfred Meyer, Hayder J. Salem, Reza Korehei, James A. Olson, Polyvinyl-Alcohol Cellulose Fiber Foam as a Sustainable Greenhouse Growth Medium, Journal of Biosystems Engineering,48, 36-45 (2023)
  • Ahmadi, H., O’Keefe, A., Bilek, M.A., Korehei, R., Kapu, N.S., Martinez, M.D., Olson, J.A. Investigation of Properties and Applications of Cellulose-Mycelium Foam. Journal of Materials Science 57 22, 10167-10178
  • Kargupta, W., Seifert, R., Martinez, M., Olson J.A., Tanner J., and Batcherlor W., Preparation and benchmarking of novel cellulose nanopaper. Cellulose (2022).
  • Aigner M., Olson J.A., Sun Y., Wild P., Effects of plate wear on bar forces and fiber properties in a mill scale LC-refiner, Nordic Pulp & Paper Research Journal 37 (1), 54-65 (2022)
  • Aigner M., Olson J.A., Sun Y., Wild P., Interpretation of force profiles in mill-scale LC refining, Nordic Pulp & Paper Research Journal 37 (1), 42-53 (2022)
  • Villalba, Miguel E., Trajano, Heather L. and Olson, James A.. “The effects of wood chip compression on cellulose hydrolysis” Nordic Pulp & Paper Research Journal, vol. , no. ,2022
  • Bilek MA, Salem HJ, Korehei R., Olson JA, Recycling Paper-Plastic laminate coffee cups using a Single-Disk Refiner: Energy requirements and recovered fiber quality, Waste Management 136, 104-112 (2021)
  • Kargupta, R.Seifert, M.Martinez, J.Olson, J. Tanner, W. Batchelor, “Sustainable production process of mechanically prepared nanocellulose from hardwood and softwood: A comparative investigation of refining energy consumption at laboratory and pilot scale”, Industrial Crops and Products Volume 171, 1 November 2021, 113868M
  • Aigner, J Olson, P Wild, Measurement and interpretation of spatially registered bar-forces in LC refining – Nordic Pulp & Paper Research Journal, 35, no. 4, 2020, pp. 600-610.

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