The Georgia-Pacific gypsum plant Sweetwater West, located in Sweetwater, Texas, recently completed board drying equipment enhancements that are anticipated to result in CO2 reduction, energy savings, and the lowering of resource consumption. The installation of an Energy Optimization System (EOS), also known in the industry as exhaust heat recovery, at the plant included the installation of new ducting, two new fans, and a new exhaust stack to an existing four-zone dryer.

Prior to the EOS conversion, each of the four zones within the plant exhausted waste heat to atmosphere. The newly upgraded system enables collection of the waste exhaust from the first three zones and injects it into the fourth zone, allowing the useful heat to be recovered before exhausting it at a lower temperature. The waste exhaust streams from the first three zones, when combined, contain almost all heat required by the fourth zone, enabling the burner in that zone to operate at a lower capacity.

The result is a net-energy savings equivalent to powering approximately 441 homes for one year and a reduction of 2,500 tons/yr. of CO2 emissions, which is the equivalent to approximately 489 passenger vehicles on the roads for one year.