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Biomass heating system at UNBC one of the cleanest


August 30, 2011
By Pulp & Paper Canada

Recent third party testing and analysis of the University of Northern British Columbia’s (UNBC) biomass gasification system has concluded that the plant is one of the cleanest biomass facilities operating in North America. The biomass…

Recent third party testing and analysis of the University of Northern British Columbia’s (UNBC) biomass gasification system has concluded that the plant is one of the cleanest biomass facilities operating in North America. The biomass gasification system was supplied and installed by Nexterra Systems Corp. The Nexterra system, which provides heat to most buildings on UNBC’s Prince George campus, underwent independent testing to assess the emissions for particulate matter (PM), volatile organic compounds (VOC), carbon monoxide (CO) and nitrogen oxides (NOx). Testing results showed that the Nexterra system generated emission levels that are extremely low for biomass energy systems and are equivalent to natural gas. “We are proud to have delivered on the commitment we made to our community that we would generate our own renewable energy and be a showpiece for the province without compromising air quality in the Prince George airshed,” said UNBC president George Iwama. When compared against the average emissions levels generated by 17 conventional biomass combustion plants located in the U.S. and Canada built within the last decade and of a similar scale, the test results from UNBC were:   

– 18 times lower with respect to particulate matter;

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– 65 times lower with respect to carbon monoxide;

– 37 times lower with respect to volatile organic compounds;

– 2 times lower with respect to NOx emissions.

Further, when compared against US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) AP-42 air emissions regulatory factors for natural gas, emissions from the UNBC biomass system were lower or on par.

The UNBC biomass gasification system enables the university to generate renewable heat economically thorough locally-sourced wood waste. It is expected to displace up to 85% of UNBC’s natural gas consumption, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by up to 3,500 tonnes per year.


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