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My brewmaster friends have told me that hops usage doesn't scale linearly. If I currently have a 1 bbl system and want to scale to a 7 bbl system, how much more hops would I need to use?

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2 answers

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Yes - but not very substantially. I am not sure how accurate ProMash (which may be defunct anyway) and BeerSmith are. Boil duration and temperature affect the extraction of alpha/beta acids and other oils from hops. Size of container would make some difference but not substantial difference in extraction. Best would be to calibrate your system with 2-3 batches to derive a rough formula to scale up the recipes. 
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Hop utilization does not scale linearly.  Generally speaking, as the volume of your system goes up, hop utilization becomes more efficient.  Unfortunately, this is not an exact science, and there is no precise formula for determining hops scaling.

What we recommend is that you look into programs like ProMash and/or BeerSmith, which take into account your original recipe, equipment system, and bbl production, and then scales it to your new equipment system and bbl production goal.  These programs calculate -- to some degree of accuracy -- the hop utilization rates of your new system.  With this in mind, you will probably still have to adjust the hops based on taste.  Hops usage can change depending on a number of other factors not necessarily contemplated by these programs, from how late hops are added in the process to how vigorous the boil is.
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