Arne J.A. Asplund

Arne Asplund was born in Skon, Sweden, on August 27, 1903. He journeyed to the US in 1923, working at several paper companies, including one in Tomahawk, Wisconsin. Following a recommendation from a friend, he enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, almost gave up because of lack of money, but decided to continue by working his way through and graduated with a BS degree in Chemical Engineering in 1927.

Asplund invented the steam-pressurized refining process, leading to a very important technology for producing thermo-mechanical pulp (TMP) and chemi-TMP, which eventually evolved into a branch of the technology called semi-chemical pulping.

Asplund took his process from an idea, in 1931, through pilot plant research that resulted in co-founding of Defibrator AB in 1933 to commercialize his process for which he was granted a patent in 1934.  In 1968, the first commercial paper industry application with a Defibrator Refining System was installed in Sweden. Further commercialization resulted in many millions of tons of fiberboard and other materials produced in efficient and cost-effective plants worldwide. This virtually revolutionized the pulp and paper industry in the 1970s.

Not many individuals take a scientific/engineering concept from the beginning through development to an ongoing commercial process used worldwide, with tremendous impact on the industry.

Later, Sunds and Defibrator merged to form Sunds Defibrator. Asplund retired in 1979, but continued his inventive ways with more than 50 patents.

Among honors he received are the TAPPI Gold Medal, the University of Wisconsin Distinguished Service Citation, the National Swedish Board for Technical Development prize and the Ekman Gold Medal of the Swedish Association of Pulp and Paper Engineers. He was elected Fellow of the Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences (IVA) and Fellow of TAPPI. He was also awarded a Doctorate h.c. by the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden.

In recognition of his achievements, the Arne Asplund Mechanical Pulping Award is now awarded to encourage the development of new pulping technologies.

After living most of his life in Lidingö, just outside of Stockholm, Sweden, Arne Asplund died on November 4, 1993.