Improved Emissions and Lower Fuel Costs at RDM Blendecques

Italian recycled paperboard producer, Reno De Medici (RDM) Blendecques mill in Saint Omer, France had a big challenge to modernize a control system with a short time window during a planned shutdown. The control system managed two Heat Recovery Steam Generators (HRSGs) that produce steam for the process from two gas turbines and additional burners.

Even more important was the need to reduce emissions by optimizing the combustion control. Optimizing combustion would also reduce the natural gas required to make steam. The cardboard production process requires large amounts of steam to achieve the desired humidity.

Emerson's Pete Makepeace


Emerson's Jim Dunbar


Emerson's Andrew Verdouw


Emerson’s Industrial Energy Management team, including Pete Makepeace, Jim Dunbar and Andrew Verdouw worked with the Emerson team in France, which had worked with the RDM team to develop the requirements specifications to address these challenges.

From these specifications, the Industrial Energy consultants helped the RDM project team develop a plan and project execution timeline. Jim, based in the U.S., traveled to France to set up, configure, and train the operations team on the combustion solution.

Pete, based in the UK, performed the internal and customer factory acceptance testing (FAT), and U.S.-based Andrew was brought into the project right before the FAT to perform start up and commissioning of the system.

The schedule was extremely tight, but the team concluded the FAT at the mill and began the startup just 14 hours later. They started up the steam production process on time to meet the aggressive schedule for first production. This project’s successful execution truly represented an international collaboration among the Industrial Energy consulting team and mill staff.

In addition, the combustion optimization solution reduced emissions more than was defined in the requirements. Improvements were also made to operational practices. For example, the boiler level that used to be manually controlled is now fully automated and adapts to load changes in the boiler. This results in better feed water stability, which in turn results in greater steam production stability.

The combustion optimization solution reduced the excess oxygen by more than 50% in some cases, which not only reduced emissions, but also reduced the natural gas fuel consumption required to produce the steam. Overall combustion efficiency improved by 3%. These results paid back the project costs in under two years.

Scene from RDM Blendecques video with DeltaV Operator Stations (in French) - Click to view

Scene from RDM Blendecques video with DeltaV Operator Stations (in French) – Click to view

The installed DeltaV system also provided more complete information across all the control rooms in the mill to allow for faster troubleshooting and improved collaboration among the mill staff. Looking forward more units and safety functions will be converted over to the DeltaV system and DeltaV SIS safety system to continue to improve the safety, reliability and efficiency of the operation.

If you need to improve powerhouse performance, request a Powerhouse Energy Opportunity Survey or additional information from the Industrial Energy Management team.

You can also connect and interact with other pulp & paper and industrial energy experts in the Pulp & Paper and Industrial Energy groups in the Emerson Exchange 365 community.

Update: Andrew has a great update to this story in the Emerson Exchange 365 community in a post, International Cooperation and Professionalism Produce Engineering Excellence. In it, he concludes:

All in all, our efforts with RDM surpassed expectation for both client and company. The statement was even made that we “pulled a rabbit out of hat”. No, not really. Smoke and mirrors belong to the realm of illusionists and showmen. The beauty and peril of engineering is that your work is out there for all to see – no excuses. This engineer is fortunate to work with true professionals. We may not speak the same local language (as I’m gently reminded by my UK cohorts!), but when we speak on technical terms and work toward the same engineering goals as professionals, nothing’s lost in the translation.

Leave a Reply