Canadian Manufacturing

BC mill picks Turboden ORCs to power bio-energy plant

Power to be sold to BC Hydro.

EAST HARTFORD, Conn.—Turboden’s Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) turbo-generators have been chosen by West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. to generate power at its biomass heat recovery plant in Chetwynd, B.C.

Chetwynd Forest Industries will use two 65 HRS ORC units at the 13-megawatt (MW) facility, which is expected to be in operation by 2014. The power generated will be exported to the province’s power grid under an agreement with BC Hydro

Fueled by thermal oil from a biomass system that burns the company’s hog fuel—a mixture of unprocessed wood chips and bark— the two ORC units will each produce 6.5 MW of energy for the plant at maximum load, Turboden’s parent company, Pratt & Whitney Power Systems, says. The process produces virtually no greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Even though Chetwynd produces about 280-thousand board feet (MMfbm) of lumber products each year, only 50 to 60 per cent of the hog fuel will come from local sawmill operations. The rest will be brought in from logging residues.

West Fraser will also supply power to the B.C. power grid from biomass energy plants at Fraser Lake Sawmills in Fraser Lake, B.C., and at Cariboo Pulp & Paper in Quesnel, B.C.—a joint venture with Daishowa-Marubeni International Ltd.

Canada’s forest industry has been making good use of industrial waste for years, according to Natural Resources Canada. Energy produced from mill residues currently accounts for about 63 per cent of the pulp and paper industry’s energy needs, and biomass energy use in the country is growing overall. Forest biomass now accounts for 6.5 per cent of the country’s secondary energy usage, up from 3.5 per cent in the 1970s.

Worldwide, biomass is the fourth largest energy resource after coal, oil, and natural gas, accounting for just under 60 GW or 14 per cent of global primary energy, according to Biopower Markets and Technologies Renewable Power Generation from Biomass in Dedicated, Co-fired, and CHP Facilities: Feedstock Outlook, Market Opportunities, and Forecasts, a report released in January by Pike Research LLC in Boulder, Col.

Pike forecasts this will nearly double to 115 GW by 2021, especially with commercial power producers increasingly turning to biomass as a low-cost way to reduce GHG emissions.

Constrained by limited local supply of fuel, most dedicated biomass power plants to fewer than 50 MW, according to the report, but larger facilities in the 100 MW range are starting to come online and the global trade for biomass pellets—to fuel power generation—is booming.

Additionally, the report says biomass gasification conversion technologies are becoming more cost-effective and gaining traction in the market.

West Fraser recently announced plans to use biogas to power its Slave Lake Pulp facility in Slave Lake, Alta. An anaerobic treatment system will convert processed waste into biogas, which will generate electricity for the plant. Although the company won’t be exporting the power to any utility, it will enable the pulp mill to draw seven fewer megawatts from the Alberta electricity grid and reduce its natural gas use by more than 164,000 gigajoules annually.

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