This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

June 08, 2005

Food and Paper Industries Pursue Energy Savings

With energy costs near record highs, it's no surprise that a number of industries are trying to find ways to cut their energy use and draw on renewable sources of energy. What may be surprising is the number of ways that industries tackle that challenge.

In the food processing industry, the current focus seems to be on new energy sources and using energy more efficiently. Ocean Spray's plant in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, is preparing to use methane gas from a nearby landfill to fuel its boilers. Ocean Spray and Onyx Cranberry Creek Landfill have agreed to build a one-mile-long pipeline to supply the landfill gas to the facility, cutting Ocean Spray's fuel costs by 25 percent. The new system should be ready by fall, in time for the cranberry crop. Meanwhile, Energy and Power Solutions, Inc. is preparing to build three large cogeneration plants at dairy food processing facilities in southern California and Massachusetts. With financing from New Energy Capital Corporation, each project will be fired with natural gas and will produce two megawatts of power while providing heat for food processing. See the press releases from Ocean Spray and Energy and Power Solutions (PDF 32 KB). Download Acrobat Reader.

For the paper industry, DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) thinks there's a simple answer: producing the right thickness of paper. Currently, paper mills produce 15- to 30-ton rolls of paper at a time, and if a roll fails to meet specifications, the entire roll is recycled or sold as inferior grade. To avoid that paper loss, LBNL designed and built an innovative ultrasonic laser sensor to measure paper's bending stiffness and shear strength as it speeds through the mill. The sensor recently proved its ability in a two-week test at a Boise Cascade mill. According to LBNL, the new sensor could reduce the consumption of trees and chemicals and save U.S. paper mills about $200 million in energy costs and $330 million in fiber costs each year. See the LBNL press release.

The paper industry is part of the forest products industry, one of eight energy-intensive industries that DOE's Industrial Technologies Program is focusing on through its Industries of the Future effort. See the Forest Products Industry of the Future Web page.