Release Date: January 7, 2000
|DOE Opens Competition for Black Liquor/Biomass
Program Intended to Boost Efficiency, Reduce Greenhouse Gases from Pulp and Paper Mills
A new competition begun this week by the Department of Energy could make the pulp and paper mills of the 21st century cleaner and more energy efficient by demonstrating improved technologies to convert their spent cooking liquor streams into new sources of energy. The advanced processes would also simultaneously recover and recycle pulping chemicals.
The department's National Energy Technology Laboratory has issued a call for projects to demonstrate advanced ways to gasify the black liquor or biomass of pulp and paper mills. The gases can be more easily cleaned of pollutant-forming impurities, then used in onsite cogeneration systems to produce electricity and steam for the mill.
The department said it would pay up to half of the costs of selected projects. As much as $100 million could be made available from the government for projects that could last from three to eight years.
The pulp and paper industry is the nation's most capital intensive manufacturing industry and is among the most energy intensive. Currently, the industry relies largely on aging boilers to burn the black liquor produced during the chemical pulping process.
In 1994, the forest products industry and the Secretary of Energy signed a compact to develop a research and development strategy and industry vision known as Agenda 2020. As part of the department's Industries of the Future Program, the initiative's goal is to boost energy efficiency, reduce environmental impacts, and increase the forest and paper industry's productivity.
Black liquor and biomass gasification emerged as one of the priority technology needs for the industry in the 21st century.
In the advanced processes expected to emerge from the new competition, gas turbines fueled by the product gas from the gasification of black liquor or biomass would produce electricity much more efficiently than conventional recovery boilers. Gasification units may also have lower capital costs and provide greater process flexibility than recovery boilers because they can be added as modules to increase mill capacity incrementally.
Because enhanced efficiency reduces the release of greenhouse gases, U.S. pulp and paper mills could potentially cut their greenhouse gas emissions as much as 30 million tons per year by 2020 by adopting biomass and black liquor gasification technologies.
The Energy Department's competition will be geared toward large-scale pilot and demonstration plants. Gasification technologies for the pulp and paper industry are evolving but scaleup to the sizes necessary for commercial plants remains a risky and expensive venture, typically more than a single company can undertake.
By sharing the costs of the scaleup and demonstrations, the Energy Department wants to move the new gasification technologies into commercial use in the same timeframe that pulp and paper mills plan to retire or replace the older boilers.
The Energy Department's FY 2000 budget includes $14 million for the black liquor/biomass gasification effort which Congress included in the agency's fossil energy budget.
In carrying out the competition, the Energy Department's Office of Fossil Energy is working closely with the Office of Industrial Technologies (part of the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy), which oversees the Industries of the Future Program.
Prospective proposers have two dates to submit applications -- February 29, 2000, and June 1, 2000. The department plans to select multiple projects for cost-sharing. The solicitation can be obtained from the Energy Department's web site at http://www.netl.doe.gov/business/ in Solicitations.
|Contact: David Anna, DOE/NETL, 412-386-4646|