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Meiyun ZhangMeiyun Zhang

Professor Meiyun Zhang has settled down in western China for over 40 years, dedicating to the career, with a strict academic style and scientific ethics. She is an outstanding scholar who excels in both virtue and talent, and is a role model for others. She is also a leading expert in the field of specialty paper in China. Professor Zhang has been awarded many honors, including: fellow of the International Academy of Wood Science, valid candidate for the Chinese National Academician of Engineering (2021), chief scientist of the National Key Research and Development Program during the 13th Five-Year Plan, one of the National “10000 Plan” of Distinguished Teachers, expert with special allowance from the State Council, the National Outstanding Teacher, the National Outstanding Worker in the field of Scientific and Technological, the leader of a National "Huang Danian-style " Teachers Team, a winner of the “Cailun Award” for Paper Science and Technology in China, a top talent in key field of Shaanxi Province, a "Sanqin Scholar" of Shaanxi Province, and a Distinguished Teachers of Shaanxi Province. She also served the public as the vice president of Teaching Instructional Committee of higher education in the subject of Chemical Engineering of Light Industry of ministry of education, the vice chairman of the Paper Association of China, the president of the Paper Association of Shaanxi, a committee member of the Academic Committee of State Key Laboratory of Pulp and Paper Engineering, a member of the Advisory Committee of China Light Industry Federation, and other important public duties.

Professor Zhang insists on meeting the major needs of the country and has long been committed to technological innovation in high-performance paper-based functional materials and papermaking technology. Her team was honored as the first batch of National "Huang Danian-style" Teachers Team, and have made breakthroughs in key technologies in the field of special paper-based functional materials, representing by the advanced aramid insulation materials and the light-weight structural materials. They have harvested many significant results, and the key technologies have been industrialized by enterprises, with significant social and economic benefits. She has received twelve awards of science and technology at the provincial level or above, including two 2nd Prizes of National Teaching Achievements (first and fifth place), two 2nd Prizes for National Science and Technology Progress (first and fourth place), four 1st Prizes and five 2nd prizes from the Ministry of Education or the Shaanxi Provincial Science and Technology Awards. She has been authorized 78 invention patents. Professor Zhang has published eight books as editor in chief, and more than 400 academic papers in domestic and foreign journals such as Advanced Functional Materials, ACS Nano, and China Pulp and Paper. In the filed of paper-making technology, she has made outstanding contributions to the talents cultivation, the discipline development, as well as the progress of technology and industry.

Professor Zhang concentrated on the research of high-performance paper-based functional materials based on the national strategic needs, and achieved significant breakthroughs. These breakthroughs include: (1) Overcoming the challenges in key technologies of aramid paper, realizing the localization of lightweight, high-strength, and high-temperature insulation materials for aerospace and rail transportation. The products had been successfully applied to Tiangong-2, CRH high-speed trains, and Boeing 787. (2) Developing the technologies of fly ash-based calcium silicate fillers. The highly filled paper has a filler content up to 43%, which provides a new solution to the shortage of fiber raw materials for paper-making. (3) Creating the technology of super-hydrophobic and high permeability fruit bag paper. It has been listed as a national key promotion project by the Ministry of Science and Technology. This technology has received great popularity throughout the country, which significantly improved the quality and safety of fruits.

1. Engineering technology of lightweight, high-strength, and high-temperature insulation aramid paper-based materials for aerospace and rail transit.

Aramid paper-based functional materials are advanced materials with fundamental and strategic importance in fields of aerospace and rail transportation. However, its engineering technology is recognized as a great challenge, which severely restricts the development of advanced insulation materials and lightweight structural materials for high-speed train and aircraft manufacturing in China. Professor Zhang initiated the develop of aramid paper systematically since 1984, and overcome the challenges in the key technologies of aramid fiber papermaking, realizing the domestic production with the support of an enterprise named Yantai Metastar.

1.1 Mechanism of the morphology regulation for differentiated aramid fibers and the relating engineering technology.

Aramid fibers have smooth surface and chemical inertness of. In order to solve these problems, the biomimetic concept of differentiated aramid fiber was proposed, based on morphology of cellulosic fiber. Technologies such as precipitation of original fibers, fiber fibrillation, and nanofibers preparation have been invented to regulate the fiber morphology and microstructure. Three differentiated aramid fibers, including aramid fibrils, aramid pulp and aramid nanofibers are developed. By using short fibers as the framework and differentiated fibers as the binder, the paper structure and the interface bonding are optimized, resulting the enhanced paper performance.

1.2 Engineering technology for aramid insulation paper and aramid paper honeycomb materials.

In response to the problems of poor dispersion and weak bonding of aramid fibers, which result in unevenness and low strength of the original paper, a set of aramid paper engineering technologies have been developed, including: efficient dispersion, ultra-low concentration forming, multi-pressure zone hot pressing. These technologies deliver uniform fiber dispersion and good interface bonding. Based on these technologies, more than fifty products in seven different series have been produced by the aramid paper companies. The products includd lightweight, high-strength and high-temperature insulation materials for aerospace, rail transportation, etc. In 2009, aramid paper was first produced on a large scale by Yantai Metastar. It has the highest market share in China and the second highest in the world. The paper products have been supplied to more than 200 enterprises such as CRRC and ABB, which have been used in projects such as Tiangong-2, CRH high-speed trains, and Boeing 787.

2. High filler content paper-making engineering technology originated from the fly ash-based porous calcium silicate.

The shortage of fiber raw materials has always been the main bottleneck restricting the sustainable development of China's paper industry. Increasing the content of mineral fillers in paper and reducing fiber consumption has been a long-standing pursuit in China's paper industry. At the same time, China's annual production of fly ash exceeds 600 million tons, but its high value utilization rate is less than 10%, causing serious waste of resources and ecological pollution. Based on the two issues, Prof. Zhang invented the preparation technology of fly ash-based porous calcium silicate and the related high filler content paper-making engineering technology, which provided a new solution to the problem of raw material shortage and paved a new way for the high-value utilization of fly ash.

The porous calcium silicate fillers have been developed using techniques such as lime milk/desilication liquid hydrothermal synthesis and crystal growth regulation of calcium silicate nucleation. This new filler can deliver paper with an increase of 40% in thickness for a given grammage. To solve the problems such as low retention rate and decreased paper strength caused by the addition of fillers, filler pre-flocculation processes and fiber/filler co-refining techniques have been invented. These techniques have been applied in 9 companies, such as Jianghe Paper Industry in Henan Province. The filler content of copy paper can be up to 43%. Besides, these technologies saved 230 kg fiber/ton paper and consumed 760 kg of fly ash/ton paper, which reduced costs by 12%. This has created a new “ coal-ash-filler-paper” cross-industry technology chain. The overall technology has been internationally recognized as the leading level by the China Light Industry Federation.

3. Superhydrophobic and high permeability fruit bag paper engineering technology.

Fruit bagging paper is an important product for agricultural. The key technical problem in its production is the contradiction between the requirement of high waterproofness and the requirement of high air permeability. This key technical problem has led to a long-term dependence on imports. Professor Zhang innovated the structural design and functionalization technology of fruit bagging paper in three aspects: the optimization of fiber cell wall structure, the regulation of paper network structure, and the construction of surface micro-nano structure. These structural design and functionalization technology have fundamentally solved the contradictory problem of the fruit bagging paper. A series of products have been developed to meet the differentiated requirements of various fruits. After bagging, the fruit quality can be significantly improved, and the price is increased by 1-3 times. This technology has been industrialized in China, applied to 12 enterprises including Baoji May 1st Paper Industry, and listed as a national key promotion project by the Ministry of Science and Technology. The technology has been quickly popularized nationwide, with a bagging rate of 98%, which has effectively promoted fruit production and export, and significantly increase farmers' income.




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