Steam systems are widespread in the pulp and paper industry, accounting for a significant part of a paper mill’s fuel consumption. Improving a system’s efficiency can lower energy costs, sometimes dramatically, while maintaining reliability.
In April 2006, Boise Inc. received a U.S. Department of
Energy’s Save Energy Now assessment at its pulp and paper mill in St. Helens,
Ore. The goal was to evaluate and identify natural gas savings opportunities in
the mill’s steam system. Energy expert David Morgan of San Diego’s Akamai
Energy LLC conducted the assessment and also trained the mill’s employees on
how to use DOE’s suite of steam system software tools to find the savings
The assessment validated some measures that were under
consideration such as lowering the oxygen content on three boiler stacks and
recovering waste heat from the whitewater process. Then, using some of the
insights gained from the assessment, employees identified and implemented a
project that significantly cut energy use with a process in the steam system.
As a result, the mill now saves approximately $1 million
annually in energy costs and 15.4 million BTU in fuel. With total
implementation costs of $31,000, the mill’s payback was less than a month.