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Biomass research centre opens in northern Ontario


October 28, 2014
By Pulp & Paper Canada
The OPG biomass learning centre is expected to provide 80% of the total heat load for the Shuniah/REACH Building at Confederation College in Thunder Bay

Confederation College officially opened the Ontario Power Generation BioEnergy Learning and Research Centre (OPG-BLRC) in early September. The facility, located in Thunder Bay, Ont., offers opportunities for demonstration, training and…

Confederation College officially opened the Ontario Power Generation BioEnergy Learning and Research Centre (OPG-BLRC) in early September. The facility, located in Thunder Bay, Ont., offers opportunities for demonstration, training and applied research related to biomass energy, including fuel quality, emission and combustion efficiency. 

“The new Bio-Energy Learning and Research Centre will provide hands-on training for students in this emerging bio-energy field and will be integral to the success of many upcoming small to mid-size biomass projects here in Northern Ontario,” said Lorne Morrow, CEO of CRIBE (Centre for Research and Innovation in the Bio-Economy), a contributor to the project.

Confederation College says the centre demonstrates its commitment to developing a market for biomass in northwestern Ontario and other markets. The centre is equipped with state-of-the-art Fröling biomass boilers, fuel handling and heating systems. It is expected to also provide 80% of the total heat load for the Shuniah/REACH Building at Confederation College this fall and winter. 

Adopted and adapted from existing European technology, the OPG-BLRC is the first facility of its kind in Ontario. The team supporting the facility is currently working with regulators in Ontario to modernize guidelines governing the use of biomass.  In addition, research and testing will focus on streamlining biomass energy for community consumption, including those in remote areas. Communities that participate will also develop transferable skills that could initiate additional projects and local investment including employment.  

“The shift towards renewable energy and cleaner technology was one of the motivators for Ontario Power Generation’s (OPG) investment in the new BioEnergy Learning and Research Centre at College,” Chris Fralick, regional plant manager, Northwest Operations, Ontario Power Generation. “It aligns with the company’s strategic biomass initiatives in northwestern Ontario, strengthens OPG’s support for educational opportunities at the College and further reinforces the company’s commitment to the northwest region.”
The OPG-BLRC has been made possible through funding from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation, Ontario Power Generation, CRIBE (Centre for Research and Innovation in the Bio-Economy) and Evergreen BioHeat Ltd. Support was also received from Biothermic Renewable Energy Systems, CEM Specialities Inc. and WSP Canada Inc.  Honeywell led the design and construction of the centre. Evergreen Bioheat Ltd. is the exclusive supplier of the Fröling biomass hot water systems that are installed in the research centre.