Sechler’s Sugar Shack

Somerset County, Pennsylvania

Energy Efficiency — Reverse Osmosis
$6,050 Grant

Sechler's Sugar Shack - energy efficiency - reverse osmosisWhen most people think of maple syrup, Vermont immediately comes to mind. But for Everett Sechler and his wife Chris, Southwestern Pennsylvania will do just fine.

In 1983, the couple began tapping their own trees in Somerset County and have been growing their small business each year since, always making an effort to stay on the cutting edge of technological innovation.

In 2007, they applied for a REAP grant to install a new reverse osmosis machine to help separate the sugar from the water in maple sap. Usually done entirely through energy-intensive evaporation, reverse osmosis allows 75-80% of water to be removed from the sap before boiling off the remainder.

The fuel savings are substantial. “I used to use about 4.25 gallons of fuel oil to make one gallon of maple syrup. With reverse osmosis that ratio drops to 1.2 gallons of fuel per gallon of syrup.”

Even with low energy prices brought on by the economic downturn, Everett says he is still saving time and money. “The amount of time it takes to produce our syrup has been almost cut in half,” he said, happily.

Everett is a pioneer of sorts in Pennsylvania, as he was the first maple syrup producer in the commonwealth to receive REAP funding for a reverse osmosis project. The $6,050 he received covered exactly 25% of the project’s $24,200 cost, and other producers in the area have taken notice.

Asked what he thought of REAP grant funding, Everett said, “This is something practical. It allows maple syrup producers to save resources and it helps the sugar maker to make choices that help the environment and our economy.”