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UBC chooses to heat with biomass

Nexterra Systems Corp. has signed a multi-million dollar agreement with the University of British Columbia (UB...


August 17, 2010
By Pulp & Paper Canada

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Nexterra Systems Corp. has signed a multi-million dollar agreement with the University of British Columbia (UBC) to supply and install a biomass combined heat and power (CHP) system at UBC’s Vancouver campus. This is the first installation of its kind in North America and follows three years of collaboration between Nexterra and GE’s Jenbacher gas engine division.
The new CHP system will convert urban wood waste into clean burning, combustible synthetic gas or “syngas” using Nexterra’s proprietary gasification and syngas conditioning technologies. The syngas will be directly fired into a GE internal combustion engine to produce 2 MW of electricity. Waste heat will be recovered from the engine to produce 9,000 lbs/hour of low pressure steam. Emissions from the system will be well below local air emissions limits and the system will have a conversion efficiency of more than 65%.
The electricity generated by the new system will be distributed throughout the campus to meet a portion of UBC’s electricity demand. The steam produced will offset about 15% of the natural gas currently used by UBC for district heating. UBC’s greenhouse gas emissions will be lowered by 4,000 tonnes per year. Wood fuel used to run the plant will be supplied by the City of Vancouver and other local companies from tree trimmings and other urban wood waste diverted from the landfill. The project, previously announced in February, is scheduled for commissioning in Q4 2011.
“We are very pleased to see the commercialization of a new generation of biomass power systems happening in British Columbia,” said Harvie Campbell, chair of the Clean Power Association of BC and executive vice-president of Pristine Power. “With a 50% increase in fuel efficiency compared to conventional biomass power plants that use steam turbine technology, the Nexterra CHP system has the potential to become the new industry standard for biomass heat and power and has replication potential across BC, North America and in export markets.”