Considering the very small amount of fundamental research, that is to say scientific investigation conducted with no particular objective, carried out in the past in the subject of pulp and paper, it is pointless to try to discuss its impact. If, however, the term is widened to include orientated research, then it becomes possible to elucidate its impact on breaks-through in pulping.
Numerous examples are presented to illustrate the relative importance of fundamental research in the achievement of technological breaks-through in such areas as outside chip storage, carbohydrate stabilising additives in alkaline cooking, delignification promoting additives in alkaline cooking, twostage sulphite cooking, oxygen bleaching, displacement bleaching, and steam drying.
The findings indicate that empirical experimentation as well as the artistic combination of existing knowledge, often from different disciplines, has been most effective in bringing about technological breaks-through. Fundamental research has also been quite effective when it has been directed towards the attainment of a specified objective. It seems to have been least effective when it has been primarily either explanatory, to set a recent finding in its proper background, or repetitive, to discover how a finding made elsewhere can be applied to local conditions.
All high quality fundamental research will give rise to new data for relevant system properties, and to new models representing the best available descriptions of the systems under consideration. This helps others to make future technological breaks-through, perhaps through empirical approaches, but often through the proper combination of knowledge from various fields.
The technical strength as well as the competitiveness of the industry will in the future, as in the past, be strongly dependent on the extent and effectiveness of the research which is undertaken. It is therefore essential for the future of the pulp and paper industry that R & D activity be maintained at a very high level.