Uptown Greenville, NC


Weyerhaeuser Pilot Project at Pitt County Facility

By K.J. Williams
The Daily Reflector

GRIFTON (August 16, 2011) — At Weyerhaeuser's Greenville Lumber Facility, some of the lumber mill's electricity soon could be generated via a waste heat recovery system.

A pilot project is expected to enter the testing phase at the Hanrahan Road facility this summer. About 10 workers from The Roberts Co. in Winterville are installing the renewable energy system.

Once it's in operation, the system will use hot oil recovered from a kiln that dries lumber. Heat from the oil will convert a liquid refrigerant into gas that will operate a turbine to generate electricity. The system will be tied to a transformer and could provide about 4.5 million kilowatt hours of 100-percent emission-free electricity.

It's a closed-loop system, and heated gas will be transported back to an evaporative cooler, where it will be converted back to a liquid so the cycle can be repeated, officials said.

“It helps us capture some of our heat that we generate here to generate electricity,” said Mack Burks, unit manager of the facility. “It's using the energy that we already have from heat to lessen our dependence on other forms of electricity.”

The system, including a skid that produces the power, and the cooling generator were manufactured by Houston-based TAS Energy Inc.

KGRA Energy LP, an Illinois developer of renewable energy power generation products, partnered with TAS Energy to bring the system to Weyerhaeuser.

Jason Gold, KGRA's chief executive officer and founder, said the organic Rankine cycle system has been used primarily in the oil and gas industries, not at companies like Weyerhaeuser.

“This is the first ORC installation at any pulp, paper or timber mill in the United States,” he said.

It's an untapped market that Gold sees as prime territory for expansion.

“They have lots of waste heat at those facilities, and they consume lots of power,” he said. “We are generating electricity without burning additional fossil fuel.”

Burks said the green energy process could be a go for other Weyerhaeuser facilities depending on the success of this pilot project.

Weyerhaeuser Co. is the world's largest forest products companies.

The company grows and harvests trees. At the Grifton facility, lumber is produced.

Contact K.J. Williams at kwilliams@reflector.com and 252-329-9588.