By Laura Thompson, PhD, Director of Technical Marketing & Sustainable Development, Sappi North America
Sappi North America’s Somerset Mill in Maine saw an opportunity to remain competitive by investing in its manufacturing technology, therefore reducing both its energy-associated footprint and costs through the Hood Heat Recovery Project at Somerset.
The Somerset Mill was built in 1974 and originally designed to process hot water for its paper machines via the low pressure steam system, which was produced by way of burning fuel. The Hood Heat Recovery Project at Somerset was developed to provide process hot water for Paper Machine No. 2 (PM2) and Paper Machine No. 3 (PM3) in order to offset the use of low pressure steam. Now, newly installed heat exchangers capture wasted heat and use it to heat the water needed in the manufacturing process.
The update included adding heat exchangers, ductwork, plumbing systems, and a great deal of piping and controls. Modifications were also made to the PM3’s dryer steam system to reduce blow-through steam that was being used to generate hot water in the dryer section vacuum condenser. All of this enabled a greater use of hot water generated from recovered heat. Because the project reduces the mill’s steam production requirements and fuel use in the boilers, it is projected to save more than 3,700 tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
Revamping an outdated process can be timely and costly, but the return on investment is strong. In addition, a grant from Efficiency Maine, which provides incentive grants to fund projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduced the estimated project costs and increased its return significantly.
Reducing energy helps us to maintain a cost competitive position, which in turn helps to maintain jobs and the multiplier effect of employment within the local community. As such, our customers regularly tell us they understand these dynamics and appreciate our efforts to stay a sustainable producer of the products they need.
Sappi North America received the 2016 AF&PA Leadership in Sustainability Award for Energy Efficiency/Greenhouse Gas Reduction for its Hood Heat Recovery Project at Somerset.