Reinventing Infrastructure for Water Reduction

Nov 06, 2017

By Mike Grimm
President and CEO, American Eagle Paper Mills

American Eagle Paper Mills commissioned Project Phoenix to reinvent our Tyrone, Pennsylvania, mill’s critical infrastructure. A primary focus of the project was increased efficiency, including the objective to use less water to produce our high-quality recycled uncoated paper.

Our Tyrone mill was constructed in 1880 and is one of the oldest working paper mills in the United States. Over the years, the plumbing, electrical distribution, steam distribution and generation had been modified many times, creating significant long-term inefficiencies.

To improve our mill’s infrastructure, we installed over 5,000 feet of new piping, improving the efficiency of steam distribution and collection of the condensate to minimize waste. Our focus on water reduction generated electrical demand decreases as well. We installed a custom water treatment system scaled to match our new boiler, which more efficiently treats our condensate and further reduces water waste.

These updates resulted in an 83 percent reduction in total daily water withdrawal from the Little Juniata River and watershed; a 91 percent reduction in daily water consumption; and an 18.1 percent reduction in process water effluent per ton of paper produced.

Central Pennsylvania’s Little Juniata watershed was also positively impacted by Project Phoenix. Prior to implementing the project, the spring water feed that would have flowed into the Little Juniata River had been diverted for mill operations dating back to 1935. Now, the water inflows from the renewed source into the river at a constant 50 degree temperature, which is critical to the watershed’s natural ecosystem.

Project Phoenix’ success gave new life to American Eagle Paper Mills, delivered dramatic environmental savings and generated significant operational cost reductions that are key to our mill’s long-term economic sustainability. It also reaffirmed our belief that smaller, more efficient, more flexible operations with the highest level of commitment to environmental sustainability will remain successful well into the future.

American Eagle Paper Mills received a 2017 AF&PA Leadership in Sustainability Award for Water for its Project Phoenix.