Biomass energy systems maker Nexterra Systems Corp. released study findings showing its gasification plants produce drastically fewer emissions than conventional biomass combustion plants in North America.
The findings also showed its plants perform on par or better than natural gas combustion when it comes to certain emissions. Rather than burning wood waste, Nexterra’s technology converts it into a gas that can be used for heat and power.
Nexterra is using the findings to address emission concerns of not only potential customers but also residents who may be located near one of its plants.
Jeff Arason, manager of utilities for the City of Surrey, said earlier this month during a panel discussion about district energy that there is not a clear understanding in the community of what emissions come from biomass.
“An issue we have to address is not only the physical image of the smokestack, but what’s coming out of it,” said Arason (See “A new European kid on your block: District energy systems” – issue 1096; October 26-November 1).
Community concerns are partially a result of the fact that many different biomass technologies exist – some performing better than others when it comes to emissions.
According to the study, which was done by Levelton Consultants Ltd. on behalf of Nexterra, carbon monoxide (CO) emissions from Nexterra’s systems are less than 2% of the CO emissions from other biomass combustion systems surveyed.
As well, volatile organic compounds (VOC) emissions from Nexterra’s systems are less than 3% of those from the biomass combustion systems surveyed.
Particulate matter (PM) emissions from Nexterra’s systems were equal to or less than the best emissions performance demonstrated by biomass combustion systems.
“I think people have this idea that biomass industry is dominated by old outdated biomass technology,” said Jonathan Rhone, Nexterra’s president and CEO. “People think of it as dirty, rural and industrial.”
He noted that the company has roughly $500 million worth of projects in the works, three-quarters of which are in urban areas.
Nexterra systems are being used at the Dockside Green development in downtown Victoria, at the Kruger Products facility in New Westminster and at the University of Montana.
Rhone said, “We’ve known through our own studies that our emissions are extremely low, but we felt that having a third party to validate was necessary.”