SteamDry: Pioneering Sustainable Drying Solutions for the Paper Industry

A European Consortium Led by VTT Introduces Superheated Steam Technology to Revolutionize Paper Production

In an ambitious endeavor funded by the European Union with 9.8M€, the SteamDry project is poised to transform the sustainability of drying processes for web-like materials such as paper, board, tissue, and nonwovens.

SteamDry focuses on developing and piloting Superheated Steam Drying technology (SSD) to drastically reduce energy consumption in the drying process. The project aims to achieve a remarkable 60% energy savings in drying, translating to approximately 40% energy savings across the entire production line. SSD also presents a pioneering concept that could pave the way for CO2 emission-free paper and board manufacturing, coupled with an increase in the use of renewable energy sources.

The long-term potential for energy savings in Europe is estimated at 127 TWh or €6 billion annually for paper and board manufacturers. Beyond the pulp and paper sectors, the technology developed in SteamDry is anticipated to find applications in the chemical industry and wood processing. The project holds the promise of boosting the market share revenue of technology suppliers by €230–345 million annually in Europe, with a global energy savings potential of 870 TWh.

Operational Flexibility

The SSD solution is adaptable for installation on existing infrastructure or new machines, offering a cost-effective solution with low capital and operating expenditures. This versatility opens new avenues for technology suppliers and provides substantial savings for end-users.

The piloting phase of SSD will contribute to enhanced knowledge in various areas, including keeping air and steam phases separate, cleaning superheated steam from biobased particles, safe operation, and the implementation of an AI-supported advanced control platform.

The SteamDry project is not merely an innovation in drying technology; it’s a transformative force poised to shape a sustainable and eco-friendly future for industries globally.

The consortium

The SteamDry project, set to unfold from January 1, 2024, to June 30, 2027, will be orchestrated under the coordination of VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd. 

The kick-off meeting of the project took place from January 16 to 18, 2024, in the city of Jyväskylä, Finland. This gathering served as a pivotal moment for collaboration, setting the stage for the innovative endeavors and collaborative efforts that will define the project’s trajectory over the coming years.

The project benefits from the valuable contributions of research and technology institutes such as AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH and VDEh-Betriebsforschungs Institut GmbH from Germany. Noteworthy participation from companies includes Valmet Technologies Oy and Metsa Board Corporation from Finland, as well as Ahlstrom Oyj, Metsaliitto Osuuskunta, and Ahlstrom Specialties. Further support is provided by Sappi Maastricht in the Netherlands, Sofidel Spa in Italy, Piller Blowers & Compressors GmbH from Germany, and Smurfit Kappa Paper Services BV from the Netherlands. 

Additionally, collaboration extends to universities, including Universidad de Santiago de Compostela from Spain, Universiteit Twente from the Netherlands, and Stichting Wageningen Research from the Netherlands, each playing a significant role in this collective effort. Each entity brings its specialized expertise to the table, united in the common goal of advancing sustainable drying processes for web-like materials. The communication, dissemination, and exploitation efforts within the project will be spearheaded by Fundacion Empresa Universidad Gallega, a non-profit organization based in Spain.