On Thursday, June 13, PacBio President John Stirling was the keynote speakers at the Prince George Chamber of Commerce luncheon. He told the audience of about 60 that PacBio has been a bioenergy leader in Prince George for the past 25 years and credited the vision of John Swaan and support of Carrier Lumber for getting the company started. John talked about the positive partnerships that PacBio has with groups in the community such as UNBC, PG Humane Society, Prince George Chamber of Commerce and the City of Prince George. He told the audience that unlike the lumber and pulp & paper industries, the wood pellet sector doesn’t experience the ‘highs & lows’ of cyclical markets but has seen steady, stable growth since the 1990s. He said new partnerships with companies like Sumitomo Corporation of Japan will mean long-term contracts for wood pellets for the next 15 to 20 years. John said one of the key challenges to further growth for the BC Wood Pellet sector is access to fibre that the lumber and pulp & paper sectors don’t want. He said that PacBio and other pellet producers continue to work with the Province of BC, communities and First Nations to resolve the challenge.
On Wednesday, June 5, PacBio welcomed a group of Sumitomo representatives including Mr. Manabu (Matt) Hamamoto, who is the new leader of Sumitomo’s Materials, Supplies and Real Estate Group in New York. Sumitomo purchased 48% of PacBio in 2017 and falls within Mr. Hamamoto’s responsibilities for Sumitomo. He toured the plant and met with PacBio Chairman and CEO, Don Steele, President John Stirling other staff. Mr. Hamamoto’s visit was marked with a special ‘tree planting’ ceremony at the entrance to the PG Plant. The planting of the tree celebrates the partnership between PacBio and Sumitomo and is a sign of good fortune for the future. A plaque commemorating the special ceremony was also placed in front of the tree. Mr. Hamamoto looks forward to working with everyone at PacBio and welcomes the opportunity to grow the business to the benefit of both PacBio and Sumitomo.
Pacific BioEnergy Corporation’s management team at the Prince George Plant continues to investigate a fire that occurred on April 06, 2019. The incident was detected by employees at approximately 8:30 a.m. and Prince George Fire and Rescue was notified and were promptly on-site.
No injuries were sustained in this incident and the investigation into the cause is on-going. The Company’s priority at this time is to ensure the safety of all of its’ employees and contractors on site as they work through the investigation, assess the damage and generate a plan for safe recommissioning of the plant.
Shawn Bells, VP of Operations, Pacific BioEnergy, walked an audience through the events surrounding the company’s 2017 silo fire at a Prevention and Response workshop held in Prince George, BC on February 14, 2019. The workshop was held by the Wood Pellet Association of Canada (WPAC) in co-operation with WorkSafe BC and featured Silo fire expert Henry Persson of the RISE Research Institute of Sweden as a guest speaker.
For Immediate Release
January 31, 2019
Terrace, B.C. – Skeena Sawmills Ltd. and Pacific BioEnergy Corporation (PacBio) have entered into a long term off-take agreement for wood pellets. Under the terms of the agreement, PacBio will purchase all of the pellets produced at Skeena Sawmills’ new, state-of-the-art pellet plant, in support of PacBio’s long term supply agreements with power producers in Japan. Skeena’s pellet plant is built adjacent to its sawmill in Terrace, B.C., and will commence production in Q1 2019.
“Skeena’s pellet plant provides a critical outlet for residual fibre from the sawmill and builds on our commitment to maximizing value from the forest resource and generating local jobs from local logs in Northwestern British Columbia,” said Rick Harris, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Skeena Sawmills. “Our $20 million investment to build a pellet plant, combined with this long-term strategic partnership with PacBio to serve international markets for bioenergy, supports the sustainability of both our business model and the regional forest economy.”
Commenting on the agreement, John Stirling, President, of PacBio said, “This agreement with Skeena Sawmills contributes to our growing presence serving Japan’s demand for bioenergy products and advances our vision of bringing greater value to B.C.’s forest industry. I want to thank Paul Kalil, PacBio’s VP of Corporate Development, and Rick for leading the development of this Agreement. We look forward to further developing our relationship with Skeena.”
About Skeena Sawmills
Skeena Sawmills Ltd. is a Canadian corporation headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia, with sawmill and forest operations in Terrace, BC. Its sawmill has a capacity of approximately 120 million board feet of lumber production annually and is located 135 kilometers from the Port of Prince Rupert, BC. Skeena Sawmills is one of the largest Pacific Coast Hemlock sawmilling facilities in British Columbia, producing a wide variety of quality Hem-Fir products for domestic and international markets.
About Pacific BioEnergy Corporation
Pacific BioEnergy Corporation is a leading manufacturer and internationally recognized supplier of wood pellet biomass fuel to industrial purchasers worldwide. The company is based in Prince George, BC with its head office in Vancouver, BC.
Vice President, Sales & Marketing
Phone (604) 612-0073
Phone (604) 602-1099
Pacific BioEnergy Corporation (PacBio) today announced that it has entered into two new long-term pellet supply contracts with Japanese power producers. Commencing in 2020 and 2022 respectively, PacBio will be supplying a combined 170,000 metric tonnes per annum to them by 2022.
PacBio’s pellets will be delivered to newly built dedicated biomass power plants and will contribute to stable, renewable, green electricity production supporting Japan’s energy transition. This new business for PacBio has been and will be intermediated through Sumitomo Corporation, PacBio’s 48% shareholder and marketing partner.
“These new contracts, which extend to 2030 and 2035, represent a major extension to PacBio’s existing contracted sale portfolio. This new business assures the continued strong presence of our Prince George and affiliated manufacturing operations in the dynamic and growing Asian market” said Don Steele, CEO. “This business, in addition to existing contracts in the European and Japanese markets, demonstrates the fulfillment of over 12 years of pioneering market development work in the Asia region.”
Since inception in 1994, PacBio has converted and marketed over 4 million tonnes of sawmill and forest harvest residuals that would otherwise have been incinerated as waste and developed various technologies, systems, and markets to create a viable green energy industry that is complementary to the traditional sawmilling and pulp manufacturing industries. In 1998, PacBio opened the European industrial energy markets for BC manufactured biomass fuel. In 2008, PacBio began utilizing forest residuals (aka “slash”) as a raw material source, supplementing sawmill residuals which had traditionally been incinerated in Bee Hive Burners, thereby materially reducing air smoke contamination in Prince George and Central BC. PacBio’s forest residuals program focuses on utilizing low grade pine beetle damaged fibre and making productive use of the material and reducing the environmental effects associated with open slash burning.
In a manner similar to the oil industry discontinuing the “flaring” of natural gas from oil production in the 70’s and 80’s, PacBio views its business model as bringing greater value and lowered pollution levels to BC’s forest industry by eliminating the incineration of forest harvest and sawmill operation residuals thereby treating as “by-product” what has historically been viewed as waste.
Kevin Brown, Communications Advisor
2019 marks the 10th anniversary of a special partnership between Pacific BioEnergy and the University of Northern British Columbia. For the past decade, Pacific BioEnergy has contributed wood pellets to heat the I.K. Barber Enhanced Forestry Laboratory at UNBC.
The decision to heat the forestry lab greenhouse with renewable wood pellets marked the official start to UNBC becoming “Canada’s Green University”.
Pacific BioEnergy also provides wood pellets that generate hot water to heat UNBC’s student residences and Daycare Centre.
Pacific BioEnergy Corporation has a new President! John Stirling officially began his new duties on September 10. John has been involved in the wood pellet industry since 2006.
Prior to entering the pellet business, John was active in developing green energy companies. He has a background in business consulting with Deloitte Consulting and engineering. John holds a BA Economics, a BSc Mechanical Engineering and an MBA in Operations and Finance.
PRINCE GEORGE – The Prince George Humane Society and Pacific Bioenergy have joined forces. Strange bedfellows, you think? Oddly, no.
“When we heard about an opportunity to donate to the Humane Society, to provide products for the cats, we were all in,” says Shawn Bell, Vice President of Operations.
By Maria Church
Pacific BioEnergy’s 350,000-tonnes per year pellet plant in Prince George, B.C., consumes up to 1,200 tonnes of fibre a day, sourced from sawmill and forest residuals as well as low-quality whole logs. A new multi-million dollar installation from Dieffenbacher allows the industrial pellet plant to reduce machine wear and access more fibre sources than ever before.
The installation, called a ClassiCleaner, uses a combination of roller screening and air separation units to filter out contaminants before fibre enters the hammer mills. It’s the first installation in North America, says Shawn Bells, Pacific BioEnergy’s (PacBio) vice-president of operations.
“It’s exciting technology,” Bells says during Canadian Biomass’ tour of the plant and new installation in April. He points to a bag filled with grain-sized rocks and flecks of wood throughout — the bag was collected from the ClassiCleaner’s smallest particle separation bins. After months in operation, Bells is more than pleased with the results.
“This ClassiCleaner was a strategic investment to allow us to open up access to higher-contaminated fibre streams. It gives us the ability now to run the plant on 100 per cent forest residuals,” he says.
PacBio has a non-replaceable forest licence in the Quesnel forest district, which allows them to harvest 700,000 cubic metres annually. In partnership with Tolko, the company has a biomass pre-processing facility in Quesnel where fibre is chipped with an 84-inch West Salem chipper.
In 2010 the pellet plant began increasing its consumption of forest residuals, local spruce, pine and fir. On average about 30 per cent of plant’s diet is sourced from brush piles, but that has increased to more than 40 per cent, Bells says. The plant also consumes low-quality pulp logs, and sawmill residuals — chips, sawdust and hog streams — from nearby mills. The variety of fibre consumed is a both a blessing and curse, Bells says. More sources amounts to a steadier fibre supply, but the plant’s equipment needs to handle a wide spectrum of particle sizes and contaminants.
PacBio trialled a vibratory air knife separator five years ago in an attempt to handle forest residuals and sawmill hog streams, both of which have high amounts of rock and other debris. The system didn’t meet their requirements, which forced the company to look for another solution.
Bells toured two ClassiCleaner installations in Europe — one in France, and another in Ireland. He was impressed with what he saw. “Europe does an excellent job of recycling everything,” Bells says. But the pellet operation has unique demands.
The ClassiCleaner was commissioned in December after a 24-week project involving PacBio, Dieffenbacher and local firm, International Quest Engineering. One of their challenges was to install the system while the plant continued to operate 24-7.
The entire system is housed in three separate towers connected by a series of conveyors. A different size of contamination is extracted in each section, via a combination of scalping rolls, air knife separation, diamond roll beds and individual gravimetric separators.
A few weeks into operations, PacBio ran into challenges with the heavy particle separation unit. Dieffenbacher is re-engineering the scalping screens to reduce the amount of wood in the reject material from the heavy particle separation unit. Bells says the support from Deiffenbacher has been exceptional. “They are committed to providing the best possible solution.
“Our setup is probably the most challenging Dieffenbacher has had to do for two reasons: One, the volume this facility processes is in excess of 50 ODT an hour, and two, the spectrum of particle size that it has to clean. We have to treat everything from 100 per cent forest residuals to 100 per cent sawdust. It has to do the full spectrum of everything,” he says.
Bells says the conservative estimate is that the ClassiCleaner will reduce their maintenance costs by 10 per cent. Wear parts that were once changed multiple times a week are now checked once a week and left in place. He says they can hear the difference in the downstream equipment when the ClassiCleaner is not running.
“Now that we know how many contaminants are actually in our feedstock material, we endeavour to run the ClassiCleaner with 100 per cent uptime,” Bells says.
It’s not only the reduction in maintenance costs they can look forward to, it’s also the ability to access other streams of fibre that they normally couldn’t run because of contaminants. That will mean more access to forest residuals and sawmill hog that have the highest amounts of rock and other debris. The plant will be able to reliably handle this material without subjecting its equipment to increased wear.
Fibre enters the plant in one of three infeed bins with variable frequency drives, designated for either forest residuals, sawdust or shavings.
The forest residuals and sawdust lines are first treated to the ClassiCleaner where contaminants are filtered out and the feedstock material is classified by particle size. The coarse material is fed into either the 800-hp Brunette BioSizer or the 500-hp LAMB Hog, which takes one to four-inch residuals and mulches it to a ½-inch minus. The smaller particulate bypasses the hogs and flows directly to the dryers with the shavings line that skips the ClassiCleaner.
The plant has two SolaGen dryers with 72-million BTU burners fuelled by wood dust, and supplemented by natural gas. Single ducts running from each of the dryers then split into two Allied Blower cyclones, each of which are close-coupled to either 400-hp Bliss hammer mills, or a 500-hp Andritz hammer mills.
From there paddle chain conveyors bring material to one of 10 Andritz pelletizers. Five of the older pelletizers have individual coolers underneath, while the five newer pelletizers installed in 2010 have a shared conveyor to bring the pellets to a large Law-Marot-Milpro (LMM) cooler. Vibrating screens extract the pellet fines, which are brought to dyers’ burners, and finished pellets are conveyed either into one of two storage silos or loaded directly into rail cars.
The entire process from infeed to railcars is between 30 and 45 minutes.
PacBio’s history can be traced back to 1994, when partners John Swaan and Carrier Lumber established Pellet Flame. The company became the first in Canada to produce industrial wood pellets for the overseas bulk commercial market in 1998. Today 100 per cent of the plant’s production is shipped to utilities in Europe or Asia.
Last summer Sumitomo Corporation — the owner of several power generation plants in Japan — acquired a 48 per cent equity interest in PacBio. The new part owners mean greater access to the growing Japanese market, Bells says.
“The opportunity in the Japanese marketplace is huge,” Bells says. “We’re geographically advantaged to ship in that direction rather than to Europe. Long term the Asia Pacific marketplace is our focus.”
Watch a video of the ClassiCleaner at www.canadianbiomassmagazine.ca/tag/video.
Credit: Story, photos and permission to use generously granted by Canadian Biomass magazine.