By Treena Hein
Mar. 24, 2010 – Canadian Biofuel is about to begin building a $5-million densified biomass fuel plant in Springford, just north of Tillsonburg, Ontario, pending finalization of funding.
By mid-August, production of pellets and briquettes will begin, destined for greenhouse boilers and residential stoves.
Ian Moncrieff, president and CEO, is the project leader. “The site includes 20,000 square-feet of warehouse space, an office, and seven silos that can hold 9,000 to 10,000 tons of pellets and briquettes,” he says. The planned annual production capacity of the plant is 23,000 tons of briquettes and 27,000 tons of pellets. Eventually, this production is expected to double, which will likely be achieved by adding a third shift.
A bagging plant will also be built. “Bags will be sold out of a showroom, where we’ll also provide the opportunity to purchase pellet stoves and boilers,” says Moncrieff.
Although the final decision has yet to be made, the pellet-making technology will probably be ring die technology. Moncreiff says that there are a couple of other technologies available in Canada, such as PSI in New Brunswick and IMI in Walkerton, Ontario. But after evaluating the options, Moncreiff favours LaMeccanica of Italy.
The briquette-making system may be mechanical or hydraulic, says Moncrieff. “While there is no Canadian densified-fuel briquetting technology currently on the market,” he notes, “there is a company in Waterloo, Ontario, that makes briquetting mills for other applications, and we are working with them to create a prototype.”
At first, cardboard, wood, and agricultural residues such as corn stalks and soybean straw will be used. The plant’s ultimate feedstocks, however, will consist of Miscanthus grass, prairie grass, switchgrass, and hybrid willow grown by former local tobacco farmers.
It takes two to three years for these perennial crops to mature to the point that they can be harvested for feedstock. At six or seven tons of biomass per acre, over 15,000 acres will be required to make 100,000 tons/year of product.
The venture is also involved in a research study with Ontario Power Generation (OPG) to investigate biomass options to supplement and eventually replace coal by 2014 at its Nanticoke Generating Station. To determine if densified fuel is an effective solution, OPG is working with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs and the Federation of Agriculture on a pilot project in which 900 acres of fuel-stock purpose-grown crops will be grown on marginal soil.
For more information, go to www.canadianbiofuel.ca.