Aiming for an even more efficient paper mill

23 February 2017

UPM is seeking technological advances through research and development. The More with Biofore in China programme seeks to improve the environmental performance and energy efficiency of mills through new technologies. UPM Changshu paper mill is a pilot in a 2-3-year research programme to improve the energy and water efficiency at the mill.

Continuous improvement of environmental performance is part of the UPM strategy and the 2030 responsibility agenda, so the programme offers excellent support for UPM’s long-term goals.

“The goal of the More with Biofore in China programme is to reduce emissions in China, but at the same time we are looking for new solutions that we can also apply at other mills around the world,” says Sami Lundgren, Vice President, UPM, Environment & Responsibility.

Lundgren explains that the project carried out in China is an indication of the comprehensive approach taken by UPM.

“By investing in the competence of our personnel, as well as research and technology, we aim to reduce the environmental load and material waste. At the same time, we want to improve cost efficiency at our mills. The project offers excellent support for the UPM 2030 goals from an economic, social and environmental point of view.”

Leading the way for the industry

Pentti Putkinen, General Manager of the UPM Changshu paper mill, confirms that UPM has been paving the way for the industry in China from the very beginning.

“For example, in terms of water consumption, energy efficiency and emissions, the UPM Changshu mill is at the top of its class, also on a global scale. We are operating the mill according to international practices and rules, utilising the best possible technology.”

China has tightened its environmental legislation in the past few years. The country is undergoing rapid change, and the Chinese are investing strongly in clean technology while at the same time closing down their old, polluting production plants and factories.

Putkinen points out that the programme also complements the strict environmental policy implemented by the Chinese authorities.

Reduced emissions

There are two separate resource projects going on at Changshu. “The goal of the first project is to reduce the water consumption of the three paper machines. So far, we have had encouraging results, so it looks like we can reduce the consumption further,” says Wang Yue, the manager responsible for the development work.

“Another target for development is the reduction of nitrogen oxide, sulphur dioxide and particle emissions from our power boilers. The aim is to reach super low emission levels. In this area, we are co-operating with both the power boiler supplier and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd.”

“In terms of environmental performance, we have already come a long way, but we also want to continue to lead the way in the future. We must develop new ideas and technologies to take another step forward,” says Putkinen.

Towards a closed cycle

Heikki Ilvespää, Vice President, R&D at UPM, says that the aim is to move towards a closed-cycle mill. Reducing fresh water usage also decreases emissions and contributes to saving energy.

“We will optimise water use by increasing water recycling in internal mill processes and only using clean water if absolutely necessary. The goal is that the water exiting the mill is clean and has no environmental impact,” he explains.

“We aim to reduce water use to approximately 2–3 cubic metres per tonne of paper produced, whereas now the amount is approximately 5–6 cubic metres per tonne. With the programme in China, we want to find out how far we can go with our goals.”

The programme also attempts to improve the efficiency of energy use. “Optimising electricity consumption also involves decreasing air emissions resulting from energy generation. At the same time, we are seeking significant cost savings related to energy use.”

Energy markets are changing

Ilvespää adds that UPM is also considering the opportunities provided by the rapidly changing energy market in China in the long term. “China is investing heavily in renewable energy, so we will evaluate how we can benefit from this development.”

The production of solar and wind power varies depending on the weather and time of year. In Germany, for example, this has already caused strong fluctuations in electricity supply and pricing. Active demand-side management, or management of electricity consumption, can balance the fluctuations and thus offer the flexibility required by renewable energy.

UPM is actively using and developing models and technologies in which the opportunities provided by this development are utilised to reduce costs, use of energy or fossil fuel consumption.

Read more:

A third of the world’s pulp is consumed in China

UPM’s PM3 inaugurated in Changshu, China

Vesa Puoskari

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