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University study says pulp mills can save energy drying with infrared technology

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University study says pulp mills can save energy drying with infrared technology

August 31, 2010 - 06:52

BELLEVUE, WA, Aug. 31, 2010 (Business Wire) -Students from Saint Martin's University in Lacey presented their research on how to slash energy usage within the energy-intensive paper- and pulp-drying industry this month at the 14th International Heat Transfer Conference in Washington, D.C.

The students' research project, titled "Infrared electric emitters for drying paper," was funded by Puget Sound Energy as part of a multiyear utility grant to the Independent Colleges of Washington (ICW). PSE for several decades has supported ICW, a Seattle-based nonprofit organization, which focuses on promoting independent colleges and universities and broadening student access to financial aid.

"Great ideas need a place to grow," said Cal Shirley, PSE's vice president of Energy Efficiency Services. "These enterprising students at Saint Martin's University deserve hearty congratulations. It's exciting to see them flourish when given the opportunity. The next big energy-saving technology could ultimately begin as an idea born in the classroom."

The students' research project came up with a new paper-dryer concept, based exclusively on flat ceramic infrared electric emitters. By design, less heat is lost during the drying process with infrared technology over conventional steam dryers, thus making paper production more energy-efficient.

Since the drying process is a major source of energy consumption for paper mills, increasing efficiency would help mills save energy and money. Implementation of the technology, the students explain, could be done either by building new infrared dryers from the ground up or by retrofitting existing steam dryers.

In 2008, PSE awarded the ICW a $30,000 energy grant, to be distributed at $10,000 per year for three consecutive years, to support research projects related to improvements in power and energy use. Research projects were chosen through a selection process facilitated by the ICW. In April 2009, two $10,000 grants for research-related expenses were awarded to Saint Martin's University and Seattle University. The students have two academic years to conduct research, with the project culminating in a final presentation to representatives from PSE and ICW.

In May 2010, the final $10,000 of the multiyear energy grant was awarded to Seattle University, for the 2010-2011 academic years, to conduct research on "Using Smart Grid Technology to Promote Energy Efficiency and Conservation in Student Housing."

About Puget Sound Energy

Washington state's oldest local energy utility, Puget Sound Energy serves more than 1 million electric customers and nearly 750,000 natural gas customers in 11 counties.A subsidiary of Puget Energy, PSE meets the energy needs of its growing customer base through incremental, cost-effective energy conservation, procurement of sustainable energy resources, and far-sighted investment in the energy-delivery infrastructure. PSE employees are dedicated to providing great customer service and delivering energy that is safe, reliable, reasonably priced, and environmentally responsible. For more information,

About Independent Colleges of Washington

Independent Colleges of Washington is an association of private, nonprofit liberal arts colleges in Washington. Our 10 member colleges and universities share a commitment to providing opportunity, choice, and success for students. Together we accomplish this by making ample resources available to students, advocating for public policy that supports students, building strategic collaborations, and telling the compelling story of high-quality, academically rigorous independent higher education.

About Saint Martin's University

Saint Martin's University is an independent four-year, Catholic, coeducational university located on a 380-acre wooded campus in Lacey, Washington. Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 18 Benedictine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. Saint Martin's University prepares students for successful lives through its 21 majors and six graduate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education and engineering. Saint Martin's welcomes 1,250 students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its main campus, and 650 more to its extension campuses located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Everett College, Centralia College, and Tacoma Community College.