Pearson Eco-Business Zone Company Profile: Algonquin Power and Norampac
By Myfanwy Parry
Reusing waste heat can save companies a tremendous amount of money. But what happens when you’ve got too much? One exciting, energy-saving partnership that has taken place in Peel Region in Ontario is an agreement between power generator Algonquin Power and Norampac-Mississauga to transfer waste steam from the power generator to the paper products company. The partnership has helped Norampac cut its natural gas use substantially.
By Myfanwy Parry
Opened in 1992, the Algonquin Power Energy-From-Waste Inc. facility in Brampton, Ontario, is a public-private partnership between Algonquin Power and the Region of Peel and is one of three similar facilities currently operating in Canada. The plant takes non-recyclable, non-hazardous solid waste and thermally treats it for the purpose of producing energy. Currently processing a weekly average of 3,000 tonnes of Peel Region’s waste, the facility provides a local, “in Peel” solution for the region’s garbage while generating a maximum of 9 MegaWatts (MW) of electrical energy.
An energy-from-waste facility thermally treats non-hazardous solid waste for the purpose of producing energy. When waste is delivered to the first section of the plant, known as the tipping floor, large items such as mattresses are removed. Waste is then loaded into five two-stage combustors, where it is first combusted in a controlled-air environment, and off gases move into a second chamber where they are combusted in an oxygen-rich environment. Heat generated from the second chamber is fed into a heat recovery boiler that creates the steam used to drive a turbine generator to make electricity.
Thirty percent of the material fed into the combustors is left over as ash. Fly ash, a hazardous material that comprises under five per cent of the total, is sent to a secure disposal site, while the processed bottom ash is used as landfill cover. Potential applications for the bottom ash are being explored, including asphalt, brick, and concrete manufacturing. The Region of Peel currently has a supplier agreement with Greenpath Inc., a Mississauga company, to provide bottom ash for use as an aggregate substitute in the manufacture of paving stones and concrete blocks.
The facility produces up to 9 MW of continuous power while 1.7 MW are used to run its operations. This process creates 600 psi steam pressure. Algonquin Power uses 400 psi of steam to generate the electricity it sells to the utility; it sends the remaining steam down a Bramalea Road pipeline to Norampac-Mississauga. Norampac-Mississauga is a 100%-recycled paper mill that operates under the containerboard division of Cascades Canada Inc.
The partnership between Algonquin Power and Norampac-Mississauga began in 2004 and, following a lengthy permit process, the pipeline was completed in 2007. Norampac-Mississauga uses the steam in its paper-making process to process the raw material and to dry the paper as it is being made on the paper machine. It then sends the used steam (now water condensate) back to Algonquin Power in a closed-loop process. As a 24/7 facility, Norampac-Mississauga relies on this partnership to power its mill operations and, as such, both facilities work together to ensure the pipeline has no leaks that would require it to shutdown.
By using Algonquin Power’s waste steam, Norampac-Mississauga has reduced its natural gas consumption, cut both its operating costs and its emissions, and been able to close down its own boiler. While cost savings vary, the company expects to see savings increase as the price of natural gas goes up. The Algonquin Power facility benefits by getting a better price for the steam it sends to the containerboard company than it gets paid to produce electricity. The partnership has been a win-win for both companies and has fostered communication between the facilities about other operational challenges.
Myfanwy Parry was a summer intern with Partners in Project Green.