Industrial Engineering

Wet Paper Costs Money

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ISE Magazine – Volume 49, Number 10

Berkeley, Livermore laboratories use simulation to save energy in papermaking

A multilab effort could help paper manufacturing companies reduce their energy use by 20 percent in three years. The papermaking industry ranks third among the largest energy users in the United States. To address this issue, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and an industry consortium are using advanced supercomputer modeling techniques to identify ways that paper manufacturers could reduce energy and water consumption.

The project’s first phase targeted wet pressing, where mechanical pressure removes water from the wood pulp. Increasing paper dryness by 10 percent to 15 percent after pressing and before drying would save paper manufacturers up to 20 percent of the energy used in the drying stage which is the same with up to 80 trillion BTUs (thermal energy units) per year and as much as $400 million annually. The laboratories are leveraging their advanced simulation capabilities and high performance computing resources with industry paper press data, which uses high-performance computing to address complex challenges in U.S. manufacturing.