West Linn paper mill’s new blowdown heat-recovery system is saving the company approximately 18,000 million BTU and $133,000 per year.

Through “Save Energy Now,” the U.S. Department of Energy’s Industrial Technologies Program performs energy assessments to help industrial manufacturing plants identify ways to improve efficiency in energy-intensive systems such as steam.

Three recent assessments have resulted in significant savings for the companies who used DOE’s steam system assessment tool (SSAT) software. Dow Chemical Co.’s St. Charles operation in Hahnville, La., saved $1.9 million and 272,000 million BTU in natural gas. Chrysler’s truck and minivan complex in St. Louis saved $627,000 and more than 70,000 million BTU in natural gas, and West Linn Paper Co.’s mill in West Linn, Ore., saved $379,000 and more than 58,000 million BTU in natural gas.

Steam is used for various processes in these three plants, ranging from electricity generation to process and even space heating. With such differing industries, recommendations in each plant varied accordingly. However, all three plants had one recommendation in common: the need to implement or improve a steam-trap survey-and-repair program -- a simple step that each plant quickly put into operation and almost immediately achieved a payback.

In each case, a DOE energy expert guided plant personnel in the use of the SSAT software. Employees learned how to use the tools to monitor their steam systems as part of an ongoing energy management effort and also to share their knowledge with other facilities.