"It's steam-treated," OPG Director of Media, Issues and Information Management Neal Kelly told Canadian Biomass over the phone. "It improves the fuel's properties in three areas. It repels water unlike the pellets we're using at Atikokan - the advanced biomass can be stored outside in a pile where it can withstand the elements. It's also very durable so it creates less dust. It has a higher energy density than white wood pellets so that enables the unit to achieve full load with minimal boiler modifications."
Because the steam-treated pellets are more durable, OPG is able to use the same fuel-handling system it used when the Thunder Bay plant burned coal. The fact that the pellets are stored outside and are durable enough to be handled with the same fuel-handling system has meant that fewer modifications were required at the Thunder Bay plant. The advanced biofuel has been thermally processed, driving off the volatile matters that bring the risk of self-heating.
"We're working with Confederation College in Thunder Bay to do research on biomass and advanced biomass and hopefully we'll be able to open up new and innovative ways of using the material in the future," Kelly says. "We feel like we're on the cutting edge of a new technology."
OPG has a five-year contract for the supply of the advanced biofuels from Norway but "is open to local suppliers of advanced biomass fuels," Kelly says.