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Lokendra Pal

EJ Woody Rice Professor of Sustainable Materials and Engineering

Pulp & Paper Labs 3205


Dr. Lokendra Pal is the EJ Woody Rice Associate Professor and University Faculty Scholar in the Department of Forest Biomaterials at North Carolina State University, Raleigh, USA. He has over 14 years of professional experience in managing and collaborating with industrial partners worldwide. Before joining NC State, he spent 9 years working with Hewlett-Packard Company leading new product research and development programs. Dr. Pal has filed 38 patent applications and been granted 23 patents.

He obtained his Ph.D. in Paper and Imaging Science and Engineering from Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI. He is a certified Lean Six Sigma (LSS) Black Belt. Dr. Pal research group is focused on developing sustainable and functional bioproducts, delivering top-class hygiene, smart packaging, and flexible electronics/3D printable materials and products that benefit society as well as the environment.

Area(s) of Expertise

Sustainable and Functional Bioproducts, Nanomaterials, Barrier Coatings and Composites, Digital Printing, 3D Printing, Printed Electronics, and Smart Manufacturing/Lean Six Sigma


Date: 02/06/19 - 2/05/29
Amount: $15,960.00
Funding Agencies: International Corrugated Packing Foundation (ICPF)

Our proposal will address all three ICPF priority areas. We will ensure that students learn and perform structural design, prototyping, and techno-economic analysis to understand how design, material types/additives, and processes (analog vs. digital) affects product performances, economics, and sustainability aspect. We will also encourage students to take elective courses in sales and marketing.

Date: 01/01/22 - 12/31/24
Amount: $649,257.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Agriculture - National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA NIFA)

The overarching objective of this proposal is to systematically assess the potential of industrial hemp diversification in multi-scale bioproducts and biochemicals. We will assess several high-value uses, which are essential oils extraction and multi-scale lignocellulosic fibers, nanocellulose, coatings, and composites for bioproducts such as food packaging products.

Date: 09/15/20 - 9/14/24
Amount: $82,622.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA)

The hygiene tissue industry (bath tissue and kitchen towel) is an annual 39 million tons - USD 100 billion - global market with a forecast to grow ~ 3% per year for the next decade [38], [39]. Most hygiene tissue paper grades require the use of both long and short virgin fibers, which provide strength and softness respectively [8]. As an effect of global megatrends, the demand for non-woody biomass for tissue manufacturing will continue to increase [40], and agricultural biomass, which is perceived to be a sustainable option, can be an important source of short fibers for the tissue industry [41]. Therefore, the need to research and create knowledge on the handling and conversion of biomass sorghum and switchgrass to produce sustainable and high-end fiber furnish for the hygiene tissue industry. The proposed feedstock can be established to supply fiber at industrial scale.

Date: 07/01/21 - 6/30/24
Amount: $719,873.00
Funding Agencies: NCSU Consortium Sustainable and Alternative Fibers Initiative (SAFI)

The purpose of the Consortium on Sustainable and Alternative Fibers Initiative (SAFI) is to develop fundamental and applied research on the use of alternative and sustainable fibers for the manufacturing of market pulp, hygiene products and nonwovens. The idea for SAFI has grown out of societal needs for alternative yet sustainable materials. SAFI will study the potential of alternative fibers based on technical (performance), sustainable and economic principles.

Date: 07/15/21 - 12/14/23
Amount: $358,048.00
Funding Agencies: Eastman Chemical Company

We will perform an investigative review of the abrasion phenomenon in Tritan polymers as part of providing a potential solution. Based on the mechanistic information obtained, we will circumvent surface (abrasion) damage by adopting an innovative surface chemistry approach: we will incorporate friction-dissipating macromolecular dendron assemblies (we will refer to them as “tribophores”) either on the surface or within the bulk of the polyester backbone.

Date: 10/01/21 - 9/30/23
Amount: $1,001,531.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Energy (DOE) - Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE)

This project will focus on rapid/real-time analysis of domestic heterogeneous municipal biomass waste utilizing AI-Enabled Hyperspectral Imaging for developing conversion ready feedstock into cost effective and sustainable biofuel for selling price under $2.50 per gallon gasoline equivalent (GGE) by 2030. Municipal solid waste (MSW) is considered as an abundant potential source for biomass. This biomass, if used as a feedstock for fuel conversion operation will promote the sustainable fuel production and lower the prices. The heterogeneity of the MSW based on locations and time period can affect the biofuels or bioproducts. Therefore, the characterization of the MSW feedstock at macro and microlevel in terms of chemical and physical composition, at different speeds of conveyor system, at different times and collection sites will be studied.

Date: 02/01/20 - 8/31/23
Amount: $1,087,022.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Energy (DOE)

CESMII, the Smart Manufacturing Institute, has developed a Smart Manufacturing Platform™ for setting up and operating data contextualization, visualization, analytics, model comparison, and control. The standards for this Platform™ are being developed with CESMII’s members across the industry. CESMII now has asked NC State to create a Smart Manufacturing Innovation Center (SMIC) to deploy, develop, and demonstrate the Smart Manufacturing Platform™. Technical design of the implementation would be by a separate contract with Avid Solutions, a systems integrator in Morrisville, NC. The requested budget for Year 2020 Quarter 1 is the first step to establish NCSU as a SMIC and to connect NCSU’s strategic manufacturing testbed assets to CESMII’s SM Platform™.

Date: 08/01/20 - 7/31/23
Amount: $300,000.00
Funding Agencies: Alliance for Pulp & Paper Technology Innovation (formerly Agenda 2020 Technology Alliance)

The most salient cost factors for paper manufacture are fibers and drying energy. There are continued efforts in the paper industry to move towards lower grammage sheets (especially in the packaging arena) and higher machine speeds to increase productivity while conserving resources and energy. The proposed project will address the critical need for innovation in the dewatering of the paper web to maximize its solids after wet pressing through changes that result from a better understanding of equilibrium moisture and bound water, thus reducing energy consumption in the drying section while maintaining desired paper attributes.

Date: 10/22/18 - 12/31/22
Amount: $220,000.00
Funding Agencies: Kemira Chemicals

This project will innovate fiber products by engineered chemical and mechanical modification of eucalyptus hardwood pulp furnish. Through appropriate manipulation of chemistry and mechanical refinement, the following objectives will be targeted: 1) The surface of tissue fibers will be endowed with a bulkier and softer hand feel; 2) Concurrently, the chemistry and/or mechanical refinement will lead to minimal strength loss; 3) Bound water removal will also be enhanced to expedite drainage and machine efficiency.

Date: 11/27/18 - 9/30/22
Amount: $2,467,316.00
Funding Agencies: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Smallholder farming practices in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) include land-raised seed (piece) use, continuous cultivation (often monoculture) with limited inputs, and virtually non-existent seed (piece) treatment techniques. Yam (Dioscorea spp.) is the primary example of this cropping system and is an extremely important and valuable crop for smallholder farmers in SSA. These practices result in nutrient-depleted soils, nematode infestation, and ultimately low crop yields. Reducing the nematode population in crop soil will dramatically increase crop yield and quality. In many cases, smallholder farmers in SSA lose greater than 50% of their crop to plant-parasitic nematodes, primarily due to lack of available and affordable control options. For this BMG GCE Phase III proposal, we will build upon our promising results from Phase II trials, including increased yields and higher tuber quality and storability for both yam and potato, and use our expertise and connections for pulping banana fiber to validate and prepare for commercialization a developing-world transferable product platform enabling a field deployable paper-like seed (piece) treatment to combat plant pathogenic nematodes. In addition, this platform will be amenable to delivering other crop production moieties, including natural products and oils, necessary minerals and nutrients, or insecticides and fungicides, with its application. Our laboratories’ expertise in nematology and lignocellulosic fibrous materials enables us to target the delivery of beneficial small molecules during seed (piece) germination and plant establishment. Importantly the incorporation of active ingredients into a lignocellulose matrix, such as banana tissue paper, allows for widespread distribution of crop protection agents without interfering in smallholder farming practices. The shelf-stable light-weight banana tissue paper can be applied at the point of seed (piece) planting where farmers can use the concept of “wrap and plant” with their own seeds/pieces. Our ‘wrap and plant’ product will be an “active” paper sheet pretreated with ultralow concentrations of active nematicidal ingredient to simply wrap and protect the seed (piece) at planting. The localization of active ingredients carried directly within the paper targets specific plant pathogenic nematodes versus beneficial organisms. Nematodes are primarily a seedling disease, so protection early is critical to the success of the crop, although post harvest losses do occur in yam due to the yam nematode (Scutellonema bradys). Reduction in nematode populations by deploying the ‘wrap and plant’ product protects yam from significant infections that may lead to these post-harvest losses. Our ultimate goal is to validate the ‘wrap and plant’ product in Phase III and to translate the product manufacture to a regional African company for commercialization and distribution.

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