Ceremonies include dedication of Paper Applications Laboratory.

Hercules Research Center Main Building, Wilmington, DE.

A Hercules pilot paper machine in action.

Wilmington, DE-based Hercules Inc. recently celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Hercules Research Center with a full day of activities, including a formal dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Paper Applications Laboratory, the newest addition to the Research Center site. Guests were invited to participate in open house tours of the site following the dedication, and the event concluded with technology presentations conducted by research leaders.

“As we look forward to celebrating this significant milestone in Hercules’ long history in Delaware, we are especially pleased that it coincides with the dedication of our Paper Applications Laboratory,” said Hercules President and CEO Craig Rogerson. “This state-of-the-art customer applications facility underscores Hercules’ ongoing commitment to research and development.”

Until 1929, all research for the company (then known as Hercules Powder Co.) was conducted at the Hercules Experimental Station in Kenvil, NJ, site of the company’s largest plant at the time. The idea for the Wilmington Research Center came about as the company’s interests grew far beyond its original explosives and powder business.

The Research Center’s first structure, Building 8100, was designed and constructed in a classical revival style in 1930. The research staff at Kenvil relocated to Wilmington in 1931, and many new facilities were subsequently built to accommodate the company’s burgeoning businesses, among them the building that currently houses laboratories for the Paper Technologies and Ventures Group (1951) and the Regulated Products Building (1994), home of the Aqualon business unit, a world leader in products that manage the physical properties of aqueous systems.

The new, 10,500 sq. ft. Paper Applications Laboratory is a customer applications facility that houses pilot papermaking and paper-testing functions. “There are many applications that our customers have us test,” explains Richard Royce, Technology director, Hercules Paper Technologies and Ventures. “Usually the request comes from members of our sales force who are on-site at a customer’s facility, but often the customer is looking for compatibility of their current chemistry with any Hercules products they would like to try. Sometimes they send us finished paper for testing; we also get jobs from our customers where they send us un-sized paper that we size-press using a variety of chemistries. We can size press rolls of paper using our paper machine’s size-press, or we can use sheets in our bench size press.”

Other features of the Paper Applications Laboratory include:

Dynamic Sheet Former (DSF): Simulates papermaking at up to 3,000 ft/min. Using a rotating drum and a sprayed jet of pulp slurry, the DSF can form any grade of paper from the lightest tissue to the heaviest multi-ply paperboard. The DSF produces paper with fibers aligned similar to a commercial paper machine, accurately simulating cross-direction and machine-direction differences.

De-Ink Cell: Allows users to flotation de-ink printer papers and recover the fibers for use. Useful in testing strength additives on recycled fibers.

Hercules Alkaline Size Emulsifier (HASE) unit: A skid-mounted unit that emulsifies alkaline sizes in starch.

Starch Kitchen: Various steam kettles and two jet cookers for preparing starch - both wet-end and size-press.

The new Paper Applications Laboratory is part of a significant investment to revitalize the Hercules Research Center, the hub of the company’s global research activities. Modernization of the research facility also includes investing capital in laboratory renovations, relocating the power house and removing antiquated buildings and structures from the site.

For more information, contact Hercules Inc., 1313 North Market Street, Wilmington, DE  19894; phone (302) 594-5000; or visitwww.herc.com.