Paper mill secures £2.2m from Government to try using hydrogen in production of toilet rolls and kitchen towels

A tissue manufacturer will receive multi-million pound funding from the Government to trial the use of hydrogen instead of natural gas in its manufacturing process.
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Tawd paper mill in Skelmersdale, which is owned by Swedish firm Essity, will become the first in the UK to use hydrogen in the production of tissue for toilet rolls and kitchen towels.

It produces giant rolls of paper that are shipped to its other sites around the UK for conversion into the finished products, which include Cushelle toilet rolls and Plenty kitchen towels.

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Andrew HearnsAndrew Hearns
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Essity will receive funding through the Government’s £55m Industrial Fuel Switching Competition, as part of the £1bn Net Zero Innovation Portfolio.

It is awarding up to £2.2m to the trial to help determine hydrogen’s feasibility as an alternative fuel source.

If successful, the technology could be adopted at Tawd Mill on a permanent basis, as well as being rolled out to other Essity sites.

Sustainability is a key part of our global business strategy,” said spokesman Andrew Hearns, who has led the project for Essity.

Essity's Tawd MillEssity's Tawd Mill
Essity's Tawd Mill
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“We are committed to reducing our own carbon emissions by 35 per cent by 2030 and reaching net zero by 2050.

“If this trial is successful, replacing natural gas with low carbon hydrogen would dramatically reduce CO2 emissions at Tawd and is a major step in the right direction to help us achieve our environmental goals.”

The mill employs 42 people and reopened in 2017, having been mothballed eight years earlier.

Following a multi-million-pound investment, it helped Essity to become the UK’s largest manufacturer of what is known as TAD – through-air-dried tissue paper.

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TAD is used to make toilet rolls that are softer and stronger, but the manufacturing process is energy intensive and the company has been investigating “greener” fuels such as biomethane, electricity and biomass.

“Finding a replacement for the natural gas currently used in paper-making is not easy,” added Mr Hearns.

“But hydrogen has been trialled successfully in one of our German sister plants and we are delighted that the scheme we put forward for this trial in the North West has won major UK Government funding.

“The trial will start in 2024 and will involve replacing the burners on the drying equipment to see if they can safely and efficiently use this alternative fuel.”