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Cutting Energy Costs in Paper Manufacturing
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Process changes and employees' actions reduce energy costs and offer ideas for other companies.

Energy makes up roughly 20 percent of the U.S. pulp and paper industry's total cost of materials, and more than half of electricity consumption comes from pulping and turning bleached pulp into finished product. But companies across the country are making headway.

At Kimberly Clark's Everett, Wash., facility, a combined heat and power (CHP) process generates more than 220 million kilowatt hours of renewable energy annually. CHPs at another mill significantly reduced local electric demand and actually feed energy back to the grid. A heat recovery system in a Kentucky mill eliminated natural gas usage to heat the facility.

The Lawrence/Berkeley National Lab found these process changes particularly effective in reducing energy use:

  • Adding fungus to the pulping and digesting process breaks down biomass structure, saving up to 50 kWh per ton by reducing the mechanical equipment workload.
  • Switching to thermo pulping can save up to 277 kWh per ton, thanks to an efficient combination of high temperatures and pressures over shorter periods of time.
  • Optimizing motors and pumps saved up to 315 kWh per ton when variable frequency drives and premium efficient motors were installed.

Everyday actions by employees also add up. They can help save energy by:

  1. Switching off motors, fans and machines that aren't in use.
  2. Turning on equipment no earlier than needed to reach proper temperature, pressure, etc.
  3. Turning off unnecessary lights.
  4. Using weekend and night setbacks on HVAC.
  5. Reporting water, steam and compressed air leaks for prompt repair.
  6. Turning off heating or cooling in unoccupied areas.
  7. Making sure equipment pressure and temperature are not set too high.
  8. Fixing drafts generated by badly fitting seals, windows and doors.
  9. Performing regular maintenance on equipment.
  10. Insulating process heating equipment effectively.

To dig into all the possibilities, check out "Energy Efficiency Improvement and Cost Saving Opportunities for the Pulp and Paper Industry" at

The article you read was prepared for general information purposes by McMurry. These articles are for general information purposes only and are not intended to provide legal, tax, accounting or financial advice. PNC urges its customers to do independent research and to consult with financial and legal professionals before making any financial decisions.These articles may provide reference to Internet sites as a convenience to our readers. While PNC endeavors to provide resources that are reputable and safe, we cannot be held responsible for the information, products, or services obtained on such sites and will not be liable for any damages arising from your access to such sites. The content, accuracy, opinions expressed, and links provided by these resources are not investigated, verified, monitored or endorsed by PNC.