The UK’s very first paper mill to use hydrogen will go on trial in 2024 – enabling toilet paper and kitchen towel to be made in a more sustainable way than ever before. The existing machine at Tawd Mill, in Skelmersdale, Lancs., will switch part of its drying process from using natural gas, which releases high CO2 emissions, to hydrogen.
If the trial is successful and the site is able to fully switch to low-carbon hydrogen, it could make paper with a 66 percent reduction in total CO2 emissions.
Hygiene and health company, Essity, successfully applied for funding as part of the UK Government’s £55m Industrial Fuel Switching Programme.
It was part of the Net Zero Innovation Portfolio (NZIP), which is awarding up to £2.2million for the trial, to help determine if hydrogen is a feasible alternative fuel source for the UK paper-making industry.
If successful, the technology could be rolled out to Tawd Mill on a permanent basis – as well as some of the company’s other sites, including Trafford Park and Oakenholt.
Essity is committed to reducing their own carbon emissions by 35 percent by 2030 – reaching net zero by 2050.
Replacing natural gas with low-carbon hydrogen would dramatically reduce CO2 emissions at the Tawd Mill site – a step in the right direction.
Spokesman Gareth Lucy said: “This is a really exciting time for us, and we’re delighted to be at the forefront of something which might pave the way for a more eco-friendly way of producing toilet roll, kitchen roll, and other paper products on home turf.
“The trial should see a significant reduction in CO2 emissions, and we’re the first paper mill in the UK to get this.
“We’ll be monitoring energy, emissions, and machine performance during the combustion periods, as well as product quality, to build our understanding in advance of any permanent transition to hydrogen.
“The ultimate aim is to make our ranges, such as Cushelle and Plenty, more sustainable to produce.”
The Tawd Mill site operates one single 3.4m width “through air dried” (TAD) paper machine.
The site was restarted in 2017 to support the increased market demand for TAD paper – and regardless of the success of the trial, no changes will be made to the finished project, during or after the project implementation.
The project will be funded and monitored by the Department for Energy Security & Net Zero.
It will be led by Essity, in partnership with Progressive Energy Ltd, which has experience in delivering hydrogen demonstrations and is linked to HyNet North West, one of the UK’s leading industrial decarbonisation projects.
The investment will go towards the installation of burners that can operate using both natural gas and hydrogen, to enable the testing and future use of hydrogen as a fuel source on site.