Nikolai DeMartini

Nikolai DeMartini

Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry
University of Toronto

Chair title

NSERC Industrial Research Chair in the Role and Fate of Inorganics in the Industrial Processing of Woody Biomass

Chair program

Industrial Research Chairs program


Associate Chairholder since 2017


The behaviour of inorganic elements plays an important role in the processing of woody biomass, from pulping to bioenergy from forest residues. For example, this behaviour affects heat transfer scaling, corrosion, process availability and emissions. The research focus of this chair is mainly on the crystallization and solubility of inorganic elements in the alkaline process waters of pulp mills. Research will also look at the behaviour of inorganics in thermal conversion of forest residues for energy solutions. And some of the Chair’s program will work on research topics that have arisen from industrial questions during the previous five years of this chair. In the 20 years that I have worked closely with industry as a researcher, I have found that these small, industrial questions often lead to important new insights and new lines of research.

I have worked both at the Institute of Paper Science and Technology (IPST) at Georgia Tech and in the Laboratory of Inorganic Chemistry at Åbo Akademi University (ÅAU). At IPST, my focus was on fouling of black liquor evaporators, while at ÅAU I focused on the thermal conversion of biomass and waste-derived fuels. The common factor throughout has been the chemistry of inorganic elements in industrial processes.

The forest sector is a cornerstone of the Canadian economy, supporting more than 600 communities and accounting for 12.5% of the manufacturing GDP in 2015. This chair supports this community in a number of ways: the development of highly qualified personnel, both students and young engineers in the industry; research relevant to the needs of the current industry as well as future wood-processing approaches; and the availability of a knowledge base to support operational decisions.

The research topics have been chosen where a gain in fundamental knowledge is needed to make changes in industrial operations. For each research project, at least one industrial representative (and usually more) will be involved. The projects will be paired with mills based on the needs of the mills. In this way, the knowledge gained is expected to be applied to help resolve mill challenges. Some of these changes will have value for the larger society. For example, pulp mills are looking to replace fossil fuels (a source of carbon dioxide) with biomass fuels. One concern for the mills is the introduction of inorganic elements with the biomass fuels. Our research will help address that concern.


  • University of Toronto
  • Canadian Kraft
  • Daishowa-Marubeni International
  • FPInnovations
  • International Paper
  • Stora Enso AB
  • Tembec General Partnership

Contact information

Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry
University of Toronto



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