Nechako Lumber kicked off its new heat-recovery project on Thursday with a number of speeches and a barbecue to mark the occasion.
The project, which has been called Nechako Green Energy, will use a portion of the steam waste that is currently emitted from the mill and will turn it into electricity.
Nechako Lumber will be the first sawmill in North America to use this new technology.
“Today we are starting a new partnership,” said Alan Fitzpatrick General Manager of Nechako Lumber during his speech at the project kick-off ceremony on Thursday.
“This is really something that we should all be proud of.”
Nechako Lakes MLA John Rustad and Vanderhoof Mayor Gerry Thiessen also spoke at the event.
“This technology is utilizing waste so you don’t need any additional fibre you’re just actually capturing the heat that’s going up your smoke stack and creating power with it,” said Rustad.
“It’s low-cost power and it displaces the power that is currently being used.
“Also this technology has the potential to be put in every single mill across the province,” he added.
The project has been in the works for approximately eight months. The kick-off ceremony marked the start of the construction of a new facility that will house the project and the equipment required to convert the waste heat into power.
The innovative technology that is being used is called Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) technology which uses an organic fluid that vaporizes at a lower temperature than the water-steam phase change. The fluid allows Rankine cycle heat recovery from lower temperature sources such as biomass combustion, industrial waste heat and geothermal heat etc. The low-temperature heat can then be converted into electricity.
The amount of electricity that will be created will be enough to power a third of the operations at Nechako Lumber, the equivalent of powering a town the size of Vanderhoof.
Approximately 20 per cent of the steam will be utilized.
“This is really a win-win for everyone,” said Thiessen.
“It’s an exciting day for our community when it comes to waste and reducing our waste,” he added.
The $7 million project is being partly funded by the Government of Canada through Natural Resources Canada and BC Hydro has also put forward $4 million towards the project.