The environment and technological innovation
2018 brought important developments both in terms of the company’s internal changes and the introduction of new legal provisions proposed by the European Commission.
At the end of 2017, the first tissue production line with NTT technology went into operation at Sofidel Poland’s plant. Start-up took place in the fourth quarter of 2017, but the effects on production were seen only during 2018. With this technology, developed by Valmet - a world leader in tissue machines, Sofidel aims to combine the high quality of a “structured” product with the energy consumption of a conventional machine. In 2018, two production lines were started up in succession at the US plant in Circleville (Ohio) as well as another production line at the Buñuel plant in Spain, all using NTT technology. Sofidel’s production capacity therefore increased by a further 260,000 tonnes per year during 2018. The two lines that went into operation at Circleville were equipped with two gas turbines, capable of producing almost all the thermo-electric requirements of the new installation with natural gas as the only fuel. This co-generation plant is fully integrated with the paper drying section and its design promises significant savings, both in economic and carbon emission terms, compared to the more traditional options. This investment fits in perfectly with Sofidel’s strategy to combat climate change.
The new integrated plant in Circleville (Ohio)
Built on over 1 km2 of land in an area with ample water availability, the Circleville production site is an integrated
plant. Paper is produced using two Valmet Advantage New Tissue Technology (NTT) 2000 paper machines,with a total production capacity of 130,000 tonnes per year, for both conventional and textured paper.
This modern paper plant has introduced various innovations such as the co-generation of electricity and steam, which is an example of advanced technology and efficiency.
Circleville co-generation plant
The Circleville co-generation plant is equipped with two turbines, both with a nominal electrical power of 7.6
MW, and is capable of producing over 120,000 MWh of electricity per year; it will reduce emissions at the plant
by more than 25,000 tonnes per year compared to a non-co-generation facility, under stable operating conditions and at maximum capacity. The special advantage of this technological solution lies in full exploitation of
the heat generated by the turbo engines which, in addition to being converted into steam as in a traditional co-generation plant, is first used for drying paper by direct contact. In other words, with the combustion of natural gas the installation is able to produce almost all the electricity and heat needed for the paper process.
The core feature of this innovation is the integration of the turbine with the drying section of the paper machine, known as the “drying hood”. The technology allows maximum exploitation of the heat that the turbo engine is not able to convert into electricity. After the first heat exchange, the hot air will release more heat to produce steam. The entire system will have thermoelectric efficiency of over 80%. In 2018, about €8 million was invested in this plant, in addition to the amount invested in previous years. The entire investment amounted to approximately € 24 million.