Firth Maple Products was established in 1971, starting with 1,000 taps. Today the company has more than 30,000 taps on about 800 acres of trees. Sap collected from these taps is hauled by truck to the sugarhouse. Maple sap is approximately 98% water and 2% sugar. Maple syrup is 33.5% water and 66.5% sugar. Converting sap to maple syrup is done by extracting the excess water from the sap through filtering and boiling in an open evaporator. Fuel oil is used to fuel the evaporators. Firth operates two reverse osmosis (RO) machines. Firth planned the installation of a new, more efficient reverse osmosis filter system combined with a Steam-Away to replace the existing 15-year-old RO unit.
The PennTAP Connection
Roger Price, senior technical specialist with PennTAP, offered to perform an energy assessment of the existing RO machines and to help Firth Maple apply for a USDA Rural Energy Assistance Program (REAP) grant to help subsidize the cost of replacing the existing oldest RO machine with a new one combined with a Steam-Away. This service was offered to Firth Maple at no cost, due to grant funding through the Department of Energy (DOE) State Energy Program and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Agency (DEP).
This project was supported and funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Department of Energy’s State Energy Program. PennTAP performed substantial research, data review, calculations, and analysis, the results of which were presented in the final Site Energy Efficiency Assessment Report and other documents that were needed for the Company’s applications for the 2014 USDA REAP grant. PennTAP also provided substantial assistance completing the application.
The new RO machine is able to concentrate the sugar to 18%, compared to 6% for the old unit. The total fuel oil requirement will be reduced by 7,300 gallons per year, or 57%.
The total cost benefits are $33,000 per year, which includes the $21,000 per year energy savings plus the $8,000 per year in labor savings and an additional avoidance cost of $4,000 per year. The total project cost was $90,000, giving a simple payback of 2.7 years. Firth Maple also received a USDA REAP grant award in the amount of $22,000.
About the Company
Industry: Food Manufacturing