New Nexterra projects include biomass CHP

Scott Jamieson
May 14, 2012
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May 14, 2012, Vancouver - Nexterra Systems Corp. is poised to significantly expand its fleet of biomass energy systems as it officially opens two large new projects at the US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee and at UBC in Vancouver.
The new projects build on previous energy systems in British Columbia, including those at UNBC, Kruger’s New Westminster paper mill, the Dockside Green residential development in Victoria, and Tolko’s plywood mill in Kamloops. Another plant is currently under construction at a Veterans Affairs Medical Centre in Michigan.

 Working with US multinational Johnson Controls, Inc., Nexterra recently completed its largest project to date – a 21 MWt (60 MMBtu/hr) gasification system at ORNL, the DOE’s largest science and energy laboratory. ORNL’s system, about four times the capacity of UNBC’s plant, converts locally sourced wood residue into syngas and provides 60,000 lbs/hr of low-pressure steam to heat the facility. It will enable ORNL to decrease its reliance on fossil fuels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20,000 tons/yr, equivalent to taking 4,500 cars/yr off the road.

Up and running since January, the ORNL system has met all performance tests, and produced exceptionally low air emissions, much cleaner than conventional wood combustion and equivalent to natural gas. The official opening is scheduled for late June.

Next to open is Nexterra’s bioenergy project at UBC. The plant will demonstrate at commercial scale a new renewable combined heat and power (CHP) solution that combines Nexterra’s gasification and unique new syngas conditioning technologies with General Electric’s Jenbacher internal combustion engine.

This full-scale commercial demonstration follows development of the syngas cleanup and conditioning train of equipment at Nexterra’s product development centre in Kamloops. Over 5,000 hours of testing were completed on the system, with over 3,000 hours of run time on a GE Jenbacher engine. Gas stability, syngas quality, engine cleanliness and output all meet and exceed the syngas fuel specifications for GE Jenbacher engines.

Nexterra says the resulting power system will be significantly more efficient, cost-competitive and cleaner than conventional biomass combustion-to-steam or combustion-to-ORC power plants. This will make the system economically viable at a scale of 2 to 10 MWe – one-tenth the size of conventional biomass-to-steam power systems.

The $27 million UBC project requires 12,500 metric tonnes of locally sourced urban wood waste per year, averaging two to three trucks per day. Creating 2 MWe and 9,600 lbs/hr of steam from renewable biomass, the process will significantly reduce UBC’s annual carbon footprint, equivalent to taking 1,000 cars off the road. Scheduled to open in early fall, this plant be the first commercial demonstration of this system in the world.

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