Canadian Biomass Magazine

Manitoba sawmill using ORC to get power from biomass

June 26, 2012
By Scott Jamieson

ge_organic_rankin_cycle_engineJune 26, 2012, Swan River, MB - Spruce Products Limited has been successfully running a small-scale power generating system at its Manitoba sawmill for over six months, using mill residues and an Organic Rankin Cycle (ORC) system to cut its energy purchases.

"We’ve wanted to use waste wood to generate electricity for a while,
because it’s good for the environment and for business,” says Ward
Perchuk, President of Spruce Products Limited (SPL), in an NRCan report. Perchuk’s company is involved in a pilot project that uses the ORC to generate electricity from the low-pressure steam coming from the mill’s waste-wood-fired boilers.

SPL manufactures premium
lumber and softwood products for the construction and integrated wood
products industries. The company, in Swan River, Manitoba, employs about
80 people and produces 40 million board feet of lumber per year. It
also generates about 50 000 tonnes of wood waste per year. The company
requires steam, mostly for drying lumber and heating the mill. Excess
wood waste is typically incinerated.

The ORC project, funded by Manitoba Hydro’s Power Smart Bioenergy Optimization program with financial support from NRCan’s Clean Energy Fund,
is the second in a series of pilot projects that aim to highlight the
potential of bioenergy technologies for reducing energy costs and waste –
the first was a pyrolysis oil project with Tolko Industries Ltd.
at The Pas, Manitoba. The bioenergy program provides financial
incentives that offset project evaluation and capital investment costs.

“The SPL project is the first ORC installation of its kind in Canada,” notes Jeremy Langner, Renewable Energy Engineer at Manitoba Hydro, adding that SPL
was an ideal candidate because the company is a leader in energy
efficiency and productivity. “The company has already installed advanced
technologies and always looks for ways to maximize efficiency and
minimize waste.”

The ORC unit, housed in a building adjacent to the mill’s boiler house, generates approximately 100 kW net of electricity. Langner says that the GE Clean CycleTM 125 unit has been operating for a few months, and SPL is now optimizing operational details, including “getting winter-proofed.”

Deny St. George, Senior Biosystems Engineer at Manitoba Hydro, adds that ORC
units are available in a variety of sizes and can capture heat from a
variety of waste heat sources including exhaust gas streams. He sees
applications in the steel, chemical and cement industries. The next
bioenergy demonstration projects will showcase the use of syngas from
gasification of waste wood, biogas from anaerobic digestion of livestock
manure and biocarbon from the carbonization of waste wood, which St.
George plans to have underway by the summer of 2012. St. George says
that ORC technology offers
significant electrical savings by utilizing waste heat; thereby
increasing the company’s bottom line and environmental performance.
“Manitoba Hydro’s bioenergy program has provided us the opportunity to
explore an innovative energy-saving technology,” says Perchuk.

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