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Week of 17 December 2018: Energy Data Continued

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One reader last week challenged my citation of Wikipedia stating the consumption of kerosene for illumination, even today, equals that of the consumption of jet fuel (essentially kerosene) in the United States. If anyone has a solid, better source of data, please share it and I will be happy to pass it on here in one of the remaining columns this month.

In The Economist issue of 1st - 7th of December 2018, right on schedule, their Technology Quarterly special section was titled "Towards Zero Carbon--Conquering CO2." The good news, and I believed I read this portion of the magazine fairly carefully, was that the pulp and paper industry was barely cited--steel and cement manufacturing were the bad boys of the industrial sector. We came in at 0.2 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions, the smallest industry singled out (their data was from 2014). Steel and Cement manufacturing were each over 11 times higher.

One matter that is necessary to our function, however, but was not coupled to industries served, was transportation, particularly truck transportation. The challenge is to convert over-the-road trucks to non-petroleum fuels, if one's objective is to reduce CO2 emissions. Energy to be used on the move, so to speak, remains elusive if one wants to eliminate the exhaust pipe. Simply, electrical or hydrogen storage systems have not reached the density efficiency represented by gasoline or diesel when it comes to transportation.

These economies can be reached with electrified trains, but electrified trains have their own drawbacks--for quick delivery often required between mill and converter or between converter and the ultimate end use customer--nothing beats the versatility of the truck. In my career, I have seen a movement from the requirement that paper mills be on railroad sidings, not far from the mainline, to a condition where mills are built far from rail, and no one seems to care. If they do, it is for the delivery of bulk consumables such as starch, clay or pigments, not for the delivery of finished product.


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The Lithium-ion battery is the closest we have as a storage device that will compete with petroleum fuels for energy storage density. However, it suffers some problems, not the least of which is the tendency to ignite into a fierce fire if conditions are not maintained to exacting standards.

But to come full circle, back to the home (the obvious location of kerosene lamps, to whatever extent they are used), The Economist article has a nice section of the problems of home heating and the prodigious amounts of CO2 produced by this function. As the article points out in a sidebar, "Britain uses more energy for heating than for generating electricity or running its transport system." Of course, the problem here is just like the problem of the kerosene lamp--the quantities consumed per point are relatively small and hence difficult to economically "bolt on" a capture system.

Overall, I think the news for the pulp and paper industry here in 2018 is relatively good. Reaching back into the mid-1970's energy consumption issues and by association, energy emissions, have been vigorously attacked by our industry and problems solved to the limits of known technology. We can be proud of our track record.

For safety this week, let's focus on those emissions for a minute. Carbon monoxide, forget CO2 for a moment, is a deadly silent killer here and now. Over the years, I have known of several sad incidents where this has taken lives. Most threats are observable by direct experience. Carbon monoxide is not and one must have it top of mind in many situations encountered in our mills.

Be safe and we will talk next week.


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