Marcin Wasielewski (Werner Kenkel) – one of the winners of the European competition: The Blue Sky Young Researchers & Innovation Award Europe

On November 30, 2022, another edition of the prestigious competition titled The Blue Sky Young Researcher & Innovation Awards Europe was held in Brussels, during this year’s European paper industry conference, titled Paper & Beyond ’22, realized under the motto: Green and Resilient, organized by Cepi. In previous years, the competition was associated with the traditional events of the annual meeting of the paper industry, called European Paper Week. Recently, there has been a pause due to the state of the coronavirus pandemic. In 2022, the course of the competition coincided with the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Confederation of European Paper Industries (since 1992). In 2016, the initiative and the competition run under the auspices of Cepi received valuable support from the ICFPA (International Council of Forest and Paper Associations). This partnership has opened up opportunities to project the idea and goals of the competition from the level of the European region to the global level. The spectacular dissemination of the competition is facilitated by the association of 18 forest and wood sector trade organizations, representing the topography of interests of 28 countries in the transatlantic structure of ICFPA. Thanks to the determination of Cepi and ICFPA, it has become possible to strengthen the promotion of industry and scientific achievements for a stable and competitive development strategy, based on state-of-the-art global technologies and innovative solutions. Responses to the expectations of the pulp and paper sector were prepared by young scientists and students who are passionate about discovering the potential associated with forest science, products using forest-based raw materials, process improvements or other innovations throughout the forest sector value chain.

In this year’s competition, the results of their work were presented by a group of five young scientists and innovators. Among the short-listed finalists (short-listed from applications registered), who made a public presentation of their achievements during the main panel of the conference program, was M. Wasielewski – a junior technologist employed at the Werner Kenkel plant, Krzycko Wielkie. Listed below, are the topics and authors of the presentations of the individual speeches (delivered in the 5-minute regime), carried out in the order determined by the drawing of lots:

  • „Sustainable production of cellulose nanofibrils in paper industry” – Jose Luis Sanchez
  • „Thermomodernization of the corrugated cardboard production proces” – Marcin Wasielewski
  • „New use of chlorine dioxide for converting lignocellulosic biomass into microfibrillated cellulose and cellulose nanocrystals – Laura V. Gilardo
  • „Cellulose-based optics. A novel value-chain for Forest Materials” – Aayush Jaiswal
  • „Development and characterization of novel polymeric composite materials with high incorporation of cellulose fibers” – Bruno Valente

The three-person Jury of the competition (Ms. Anita Westenbroek – Energy Innovations manager, Confederation of the European Paper Industries, Ms. Katarzyna Kwiecinska – policy officer at the European Commission Unit H.1 DG Growth, Mr. Johan Elvnert – managing director of the Forest Sector Technology Platform) assigned the following places:

1st place was awarded ex aequo:

  • Jose Luis Sanchez-Salvador, Complutense University, Madryt (UCM),
  • Hiszpania. Aayush Jaiswal, Biomaterial Processing and Products, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finlandia.

2nd place was awarded:

  • Bruno Valente, PhD student, University of Aveiro, Portugalia. 

3rd place was awarded ex aequo:

  • Marcin Wasielewski, młodszy technolog, Werner Kenkel, Krzycko Wielkie, Polska.
  • Laura V. Gilardo. PhD student, LGP2 Laboratory, Grenoble, Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes, Francja.

The concepts presented and the promising results of the work in the laboratory phase – allow us to assume that soon some elements of the achievements of young scientists will be able to successfully enter the commercialization stage. The work carried out by the young scientists responds to the interest of the industry, which focuses primarily on such areas as energy and heat conservation in conjunction with the reduction of emissions (GHG), reduction of the environmental footprint of the organization and the product, innovative industrial technologies and processes, nanotechnological solutions with enormous potential for industrial purposes and applied in the energy sector.

It is worth explaining that the material presented by M. Wasielewski (Werner Kenkel) referred to innovative solutions that are applicable in the current time, already contributing to measurable benefits for both the environment and the economic calculus. It should be noted that he was the youngest of this year’s Participants. The junior technologist from Krzycek Wlk. owes his achievements to his talent and uncommon passion, as well as to the caring coaching from the management of the plant in Krzycek Wlk. During the actual competition, on site, Mr. M. Wasielewski benefited from invaluable support from members of a special delegation from the Company, in the persons of: Radoslaw Jedrzejczak – director of project management, Piotr Wojciechowski – chief technologist. On behalf of SPP, we congratulate you on the laurel you won (3rd place), I express my sincere admiration for your talent and courage.

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