Paper-drying and coating processes consume significant amounts of energy. A single coated paper line in a New Page Corporation paper-making plant consumes approximately 1.7 MW of electrical power. Because of the poor efficiency of the infrared (IR) dryers used in this application, only 6% to 10% of the input power is utilized for moisture removal; the remainder of the energy input is lost as waste heat. The poor efficiency also impacts the quality of the paper sheet, resulting in poor control of the moisture profile and increased scrap. To address these issues, we developed a Back Surface Reflector (BSR) that captures thermal energy transmitted through the paper sheet and re-radiates it at wavelengths the paper can readily absorb. For coated 70 lb. paper, we demonstrated a 90% increase in the overall efficiency of the moisture removal process and an improvement in the paper quality. In this case, the energy saved in one month is enough to power five households for one year. These benefits translate to reduced energy costs and decreased scrap. In this paper, we will discuss the development of a simplified thermal model of the process, the completed benchtop experiments, and the results of our in-plant testing on a New Page paper line.

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