UNBC Bioenergy Project - Phase 3

A demonstration of electrical generation from waste wood on a scale that is applicable to remote northern communities, while co-producing heat and local food. The focus is on efficiency, heat utilization, emissions control, local community benefits, and forest sustainability.

About This Project

UNBC is located at the epicentre of a region rich in forest resources. Its relationships with communities are a distinguishing element of its mission and communities look to the University to stimulate regional development. This gave impetus to UNBC’s existing bioenergy program, which includes operational wood pellet and biomass gasification systems that have offset UNBC’s use of natural gas for heating by 85%, and demonstrated that particulate emissions from bioenergy can be lower than natural gas.

This new project integrates with the existing bioenergy project and will allow UNBC to demonstrate sustainability in key areas: forest management, generation of heat and electricity, and local production of food.

Biomass in the form of sawmill residue will be gasified/combusted with the resulting heat utilized to provide campus heat and drive an Organic Rankine Cycle to produce up to 2MW of electricity, equivalent to the University’s average annual load. Simultaneously, the low-temperature heat recovered from the process will be used in a new greenhouse and the two existing student residences. A greenhouse will be constructed to demonstrate year-round food production in a northern environment utilizing waste heat. Finally, space in the expanded bioenergy plant will be available to emerging biochar developers to test and prove out their systems in a facility that already provides fuel, utilization of waste heat, and emissions controls.

Ongoing research will explore system efficiency, sustainable biomass harvesting, biochar utilization for soil amendment, carbon sequestration, wastewater filtration and biosolids applications, job creation and related needs for skills training/capacity building, and social and cultural impacts on remote communities of adopting biomass CHP systems and developing related economic activities (greenhouse production, biochar production, harvesting/silviculture etc).

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