The Light Green Machine Institute

27 Jul 16: Is the speed of sound the ultimate bottleneck?

Ever since I had the epiphany that led to last week's column, I have been obsessing on the ultimate bottleneck for paper machine speeds.

Last week, I suggested that we look at paper machines doing 30,000 feet per minute.  Yet, this is only Mach 0.44.  However, if you compare that today's machine speed (Mach ~ 0.044) you can see what a leap that would be.

One has to confess, as one thinks of higher and higher machine speeds, the overarching limiting physics is that imposed by atmosphere conditions and gravity.  For if you think about measuring machine speed in terms of Mach, if you have any experience in the industry at all, you realize that you have subconsciously imposed atmospheric and gravitational limits on a paper machine's operation.

For instance, if you think of even Mach 0.25 web speeds, you will visualize the stock blowing off the wire or flinging off a turning roll.  Why is this?  You are applying limits of gravity and ambient atmosphere to your thought process.

Once we realize we have artificially limited paper machine performance due to ambient conditions, we can begin to realize how absolutely poorly we control even the most advanced paper machines in the world.  

The future belongs to those who can move beyond these ancient limits and think in terms of controlling every fiber every second from fan pump to winder.  

We have just begun to develop the paper machine to its full potential.
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Brian Brogdon, Ph.D.
Executive Director


Jim Thompson

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