Georgia-Pacific Corp. (G-P) and the Office of Industrial Technologies (OIT) at U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) teamed up to study and demonstrate black liquor gasification. The project is expected to reduce air emissions by 90 percent, reduce operating costs and increase energy efficiency at G-P's containerboard mill in Big Island, Va. G-P and DOE will share the cost of the project, which is expected to be approximately $85 million.
The system will replace two 50-year-old smelters and will provide the entire chemical recovery capacity for the G-P mill. Although the technology initially requires a higher capital investment, it will provide capital returns from reduced energy demands and help the forest products industry meet increasingly stringent EPA regulations.
Black liquor is a spent product of the chemical pulping/digesting process and a source of energy for the papermaking industry. Black liquor gasification -- the conversion of leftover black liquor into a clean-burning fuel for use in burners, boilers and gas turbines -- is a promising new technology for reducing air emissions and increasing energy efficiency in the pulping process.