COLUMNS: Benefits of residual bio material

Canada has more biomass per capita than any other country in the planet according to an article by Tony Kryzanowski.

Canada has more biomass per capita than any other country in the planet according to an article by Tony Kryzanowski in the November issue of Logging and Sawmilling Journal.

A recent bio-cleantech forum in Ottawa looked at sustainable use of forestry, agriculture and municipal waste to build upon  Canada’s economic and human resource strengths. A conservative estimate is that domestic biomass alone could provide for 20 per cent  of Canada’s yearly energy supply.

Clean biotech could help reduce the carbon foot print in the oil sands. Today 95 per cent of the hydrogen used in upgrading of the crude bitumen into synthetic crude comes from natural gas.  The use of non replaceable clean natural gas to process the bitumen for shipment and further processing has been questioned considering the marginal price it is selling for.  Alberta researchers have been using woody biomass to produce syngas which provides the hydrogen to replace the use of natural gas. At this stage the production of the syngas is three to four more times as expensive but considering that most of the biomass is wasted research should be ongoing to reduce the costs of production which would help our house gas impact in the future.

Another topic discussed by Kryzanowski was the use of short duration willow plantations for the production of woody biomass.  Only three years after planting the willow it was harvested and bailed for shipment.  The rapid growth is partially due to the addition of biowaste from the city of Calgary.

Smaller projects in Whitecourt and Camrose have been applying municipal waste to short term willow or aspen as a way of reducing their treatment costs by 20 to 30 per cent compared to building another treatment cell.

The Camrose county experiment showed that the rotation of wood crops was successful in the rehabilitation of solonetzic soils with further benefit of using the woody biomass as biofuel for heating buildings. The use of wastewater increased the willow yield from 20 to 30 per cent. Another project that is being considered is the use of short term willow or aspen rotations  for the rehabilitation of mine sites.

The researchers felt that many small communities in the range of about 500 people could benefit from these kinds of integrated projects. These  projects are not only good at providing local employment but give the  communities (often in remote locations) some level of independence from power failures.

Integrating these kinds of projects with a local sawmill would be ideal for utilizing residual waste from the mill as well as providing alternates to woody biomass production associated with fluctuating lumber markets.

The heat supplied by some of these projects could be used for dry kilns, green houses or private / public buildings.   The community sludge can be used to produce clean willow for composting or bio fuel.

We have to start thinking of our waste products as potential energy and nutrient sources and not something to dispose of in our already compromised river systems.

Jim Hilton is a professional agrologist and forester who has lived and worked in the Cariboo Chilcotin for the past 40 years. Now retired, Hilton still volunteers his skills with local community forests organizations.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges all the empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist which is an independent pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C.’s 1st vaccine-induced blood clot case detected in Interior Health

Interior Health also recorded 52 new cases of COVID-19

Williams Lake RCMP are asking the public for assistance locating Marion Louise Billy. (Photo submitted)
Williams Lake RCMP seek woman wanted for theft, weapon possession

RCMP released the information Thursday, May 6

Audrey McKinnon was officially named the NDP nominee for the federal riding of Cariboo-Prince George. (Twitter)
Audrey McKinnon confirmed as Cariboo Prince-George federal NDP nominee

The nomination comes during speculation the federal government

Gibraltar Mine general manager and community sports coach Ben Pierce moved to Williams Lake in 2008 for a career, and has fallen in love with the area while raising his family in the Cariboo. (Photo submitted)
OUR HOMETOWN: Mine manager on solid ground

Juggling academics, sports and a family was a challenge, but Pierce said he and Liselle made it work

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C.’s first electric school bus making the rounds in Victoria suburbs

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

Victoria police say the photo they circulated of an alleged cat thief was actually a woman taking her own cat to the vet. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Photo of suspected cat thief released by Victoria police actually just woman with her pet

Police learned the she didn’t steal Penelope the cat, and was actually taking her cat to the vet

The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Louis S. St-Laurent sails past a iceberg in Lancaster Sound, Friday, July 11, 2008. The federal government is expected to end nearly two years of mystery today and reveal its plan to build a new, long overdue heavy icebreaker for the Canadian Coast Guard. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver, Quebec shipyards to each get new heavy icebreaker, cost remains a mystery

Vancouver’s Seaspan Shipyards and Quebec-based Chantier Davie will each build an icebreaker for the coast guard

Most Read