Catalyst Paper has announced two projects funded under the federal Pulp and Paper Green Transformation Program, for a total of $18 million to be spent at the Port Alberni and Powell River sites.
A $13.3-million green-energy project at Catalyst's Powell River mill will produce low-carbon electricity and be one of the cleanest waste wood co-generation projects anywhere in Canada. The project is funded entirely by PPGTP credits, earned through production of black liquor at the Crofton pulp operation in 2009.
At the Port Alberni site, a $4.7-million capital upgrade will improve the efficiency and reliability of biomass-based energy generation, while further reducing greenhouse gas and other air emissions. The project is funded entirely by PPGTP credits.
The Powell River green energy project will involve new waste-wood handling equipment, a sand recycling system and other upgrades to an existing power boiler (PB19), and installation of a steam condenser on the generator (G12). Work is underway and expected to be completed within approximately 12 months.
"One of the great strengths at the Powell River operation is our clean-burning power boiler. Emissions and air-quality monitoring demonstrate that," said Bob Lindstrom, vice-president, supply chain, energy and information technology. "Factor in our marine access to waste-wood supplies, and our Powell River mill becomes one of the most logical and low-impact places in Canada to generate green energy from biomass."
The project is supported by the Sliammon First Nation, which has signed a memorandum-of-understanding (MOU) with Catalyst in connection with it. The MOU includes provision for a Sliammon-Catalyst Development Fund, commits Catalyst to informing the Sliammon regarding fibre-supply opportunities, and envisions longer-term collaboration relating to skills development.
Waste wood, mostly tree bark, is burned in PB19 to create steam for both paper making and electricity generation. Manufacturing-related steam requirements were reduced when kraft pulp production ended at Powell River in 2001. The new steam condenser will allow PB19 to once again be operated at capacity, and G12 electricity generation to double from 14-18 megawatts (MW) to a range of 32-36 MW.
"Green-energy generation has enabled us to reduce the carbon footprint of our Canadian mills by more than 80% since 1990," said Lindstrom. "This project creates a supplemental energy product line, and that could translate into significant competitive advantage in an industry that's under pretty severe pressure."
Installation of a recycling system will improve the use of sand that is fed into the boiler bed to ensure combustion efficiency. Rather than being trucked away for screening, as is now done, sand will be screened and recycled on-site, reducing the total volume of sand required.
The Port Alberni project involves three upgrades to the main power boiler (PB4): a new secondary air system, a larger "economizer" or heat-exchange system, and a new gas monitoring system. Due to time requirements for component manufacture, work will not begin until late in the year, but is expected to be completed during an extended annual boiler maintenance shutdown planned for October.
"This is a multi-benefit project and a big step forward for the Port Alberni operation," said Lindstrom. "Energy efficiency tops the list of the returns we expect from it. At the same time, it will also reduce environmental impacts and deliver bottom-line benefit from lower fuel consumption and operating and maintenance costs."
Installation of larger and better-designed air nozzles will result in more efficient boiler combustion and reduce fuel requirements, improving operational reliability of the existing equipment. Fewer economizer outages will reduce the need to use a back-up natural gas boiler, and the greenhouse gas emissions associated with it.
The combination of more efficient combustion and lower-temperature gas exiting the boiler will reduce emissions of dioxins and other substances associated with incomplete combustion. And the new gas monitoring system will provide ongoing feedback, which operators will use to continually optimize the performance of the upgraded boiler.
Catalyst Paper manufactures diverse specialty printing papers, newsprint and pulp.