One company has come forward with the intention of building a biomass conversion plant in Revelstoke.
Emergent Waste Solutions (EWS) is seeking financing to build a plant in Revelstoke that would convert wood waste into oil, synthetic gas and a form of charcoal called active carbon.
It has asked for a letter of support from the City of Revelstoke as it moves forward.
“We’re in the stage now of raising capital to build this plant in Revelstoke,” Kevin Hull, the CEO of EWS, told the Review. “We have tremendous interest expressed from investors and we feel that we have an investor lined up for this, of course unless you have the money in the bank, you don’t have anything.”
EWS uses a own technology called Advanced Pyrolysis System (APS) to convert carbon-based waste into different products. According to the company’s website, it can be used to convert rubber tires, sewage, food waste, manure and wood into a variety of after-products.
APS works by heating up the material in an oxygen-free environment. The lack of oxygen prevents incineration, and instead breaks down the material into its base elements. In the case of wood, the end products are bio-oil, syngas and activated carbon. The syngas is recycled back into the system and used to heat the material, while the oil and carbon are sold on the market.
“That process, because there’s no incineration, does not create any pollution,” said Hull. “It is really the panacea with dealing with carbon materials.”
It was difficult to find a great deal of unbiased information on the APS technology. It appears to be owned by a company called Magnum Group International, which then licenses it to interested companies like EWS, who hold the Canadian rights to the technology.
According to the Magnum Group webpage, APS was initially developed to convert rubber tires.
Hull said the technology is currently being used in two plants in Taiwan and one in Vietnam, and that EWS is building a plant near Vegrevilla, Alta., that will process rubber tires.
“That will be our showcase for North America,” said Hull. “Whatever we do in Revelstoke will be the first to use a biomass feedstock, so it will be another showcase of sorts.”
The City of Revelstoke has been exploring the possibility of developing a biomass plant for more than a year now. It sent out a Request for Expressions of Interest last year and received more than 50 responses, however of those, only three showed potential. A committee tasked with investigating the proposals turned them all down because they weren’t commercially proven, said Alan Mason, the city’s director of economic development.
“(Hull’s) company wasn’t able to provide an example of a system they had that was up and running,” he said. “They’re at a pre-commercialization stage. The technology looks promising. What we found is they’re just getting going.”
Mason said an attempt to visit one of the plants in Asia was denied. “We were a bit reluctant to approve anything if we’re not sure the technology would work,” he said.
Instead, EWS is looking to go at it privately, instead of partnering with the city. They have asked council for a letter of support to assist with financing. The letter would hopefully include commitments to speed up permitting and applications.
The plant, if built, would be about 3,000 square feet and would process 12 tonnes of waste per day. It would employ 15 people.