Biomass & Bioenergy

Overview

Responsible use of biomass and waste biomass is a growing and increasingly important part of the world economy. Bioenergy, biofuels, and bioproducts are all steadily becoming more and more mainstream. Sustainable and responsible use of biomass is key to further usage. The technology to process biomass efficiently, cleanly, and robustly is as complex as the fossil fuel industries. Local bioeconomies are likely to provide significant benefits to communities through resilience, supply security, improved economics, and local employment.

Yet, there are many challenges to realize the potential of biomass in our economy and communities. 

  • Fossil fuels are currently inexpensive, are available, use existing infrastructure, are low risk to use, and are convenient. Bioenergy pathways must be competitive on an overall basis with fossil fuels to significantly penetrate the industrial or community markets.
  • Logistics costs – forest biomass is heavy and wet, and requires significant energy and costs to gather and transport to bio-refineries, , processing plants, or communities.
  • Biomass supply chains are not as secure, reliable, widespread, and economical as competing energy pathways.
  • Bioenergy conversion technologies are often more complex than people expect, leading to unintended issues.
  • The ecosystem of industry, Government, service providers, policy, and local support in North America is not as strong as in other regions, such as in Europe.  This makes it more difficult to deploy and support the biomass/bioenergy/bioproduct system over its’ lifecycle.

Insights

While today’s low cost of fossil fuels make it extra challenging to make the economics work for biomass projects, there is no doubt that in the medium and long term, that the biomass industry will continue to grow to be a very important sector of the world economy. When biomass pathways are utilized in the right way, the carbon intensity of the products can be reduced significantly. While the bio-economy is still relatively small and not as well capitalized or developed as the conventional fossil fueled industries, governments are increasingly supporting the bio-economy with policy support and funding to accelerate industrial development.

Our services

We provide engineering and consulting services for biomass to bioenergy, bioproducts, biofuels, and other useful uses such as the use of trees in mine reclamation. This includes:

  • expert advisory services to Government to help determine the right policies and programs to support the right pathways for broad success,
  • feasibility assessment, engineering, feedstock supply chain analysis, and capacity building for communities and industry
  • strategy, product development, or engineering services to biomass industrial developers, such as bioenergy plant development or technology developers.

Technologies range from torrefaction, gasification, landfill gas upgrading to renewable natural gas, biomass heating systems, biodiesel, pressure swing adsorption, water wash to membrane systems.

We also have significant expertise in biomass supply chain analysis and development, including forest residues, wood pellets, biofuels, and waste biomass. We also provide expert advisory services to Government to help determine the right policies and programs to support the right pathways for broad success.

Example projects and case studies from our former experiences

  • Transportation Vehicles and Fuels, Strategy and Policy Inputs for City of Vancouver 100% Renewables (includes extensive analysis on Biofuels) by 2050. Jun–Nov 2015 (Study lead: Craig Louie)
  • Microsoft Data Center Landfill Biogas Fuel Cell, Gas cleanup system design for Quadrogen Power Systems, 2015 (Design Lead: Craig Louie)
  • Gasification of woody biomass for Combined Heat and Power Demonstration, Nexterra Energy Systems, BC. Dec 2008-Feb 2014 (Investment, Project Lead: Scott Stanners)
  • Renewable Natural Gas Clean-Up for Injection into the FortisBC Natural Gas Pipeline, Columbia Shuswap Regional District, FortisBC. Oct 2010-Jan 2013 (Investment, Project Monitoring: Scott Stanners)
  • Gasifier design to enable a wide range of tests to be carried out on gasification of various types of woody biomass found in BC, UBC Clean Energy Research Centre. Mar 2009-Apr 2011 (Investment, Project Lead and Audit: Scott Stanners)
  • Small-scale woody biomass gasification for combined heat and power in a remote First Nation community, Kwadacha First Nation, BC. Apr 2010-Jun 2015 (Investment, Project Lead: Scott Stanners)
  • Torrefaction of wood residues to displace coal at a cement plant, Diacarbon Energy Inc., BC. Mar 2014- Jun 2016 (Investment, Project Monitoring: Scott Stanners)
  • Clean syngas from woody biomass using a Dual Fluidized Bed Gasifier for Conversion to biochemicals and biofuels using a Fischer‐Tropsch Process, Highbury Energy, BC. Jun 2013-Dec 2015 (Investment, Project Lead and Audit: Scott Stanners)
  • Techno-economic study of woody biomass and waste incineration for mine site power generation in Northern Quebec and Guatemala, Goldcorp. Sep 2014- Mar 2015 (Project lead: Flyn McCarthy)
  • Pilot Study for winter application of hydrogenation-derived renewable diesel for use in Canadian mining operations, Canada Wide, Canadian Mining Innovation Council. Jun 2013-Mar 2015 (Project lead: Flyn McCarthy)
  • Application of B20 Biofuel to underground mine fleet in all Ontario Goldcorp mines. Mar 2012-Nov 2015 (Pilot project lead: Flyn McCarthy)
  • High intensity waste wood incineration, wood incineration testing and control investigation, Peter Kiewit and Sons. Jun 2005 – Aug 2006 (Lead engineer: Flyn McCarthy)
  • Forest biomass gasifier upgrader to pipeline renewable natural gas System Design Study, BC, Nexterra Energy Systems. Jun-Sep 2013 (Study lead: Craig Louie)
  • Forest biomass gasifier syngas clean up and upgrading System Design Study for CHP, Washington State, InEnTec Inc. Nov 2013-May 2014 (Study lead: Craig Louie)

Our example projects and case studies

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