Canadian Consulting Engineer

Burnaby burns its garbage to make power

As North America sinks under the weight of its own garbage, and power supplies teeter on the edge of disaster, as w...

August 19, 2003   Canadian Consulting Engineer

As North America sinks under the weight of its own garbage, and power supplies teeter on the edge of disaster, as witness the massive blackout across Ontario and the Northeastern U.S. States this weekend, governments might find answers in projects such as one recently completed in Vancouver.
At the end of July the Greater Vancouver Regional District officially commissioned a new turbo generator at one of its garbage disposal sites. The turbo-generator at the Waste-to-Energy facility in Burnaby, B.C. uses steam produced by the incineration of garbage to generate 15 megawatts of electrical power. The power is enough for 15,000 homes.
A number of engineering companies were involved in the project, including Lex Engineering of Richmond, who did the electrical design, Stothert Engineers of Vancouver who did civil/structural/mechanical and project management, Norpac Controls of Burnaby in charge of
control system engineering and configuration, etc., and Jansen Boiler of Kirkland, Washington, that did the boiler modification design.
The Burnaby plant has been in operation since 1988, operated by Montenay Inc. It burns about 250,000 tonnes of garbage each year, approximately 20 per cent of the region’s disposal waste. The heat generated from the incinerator produces steam, most of which goes to drive the turbo generator to produce power is sold to BC Hydro for distribution on the grid – producing the 15 MW. The remainder of the steam — one third — is extracted at low pressure to power the nearby Norampac paper recycling mill. The facility is one of the cleanest of its kind – the emissions are continuously monitored and regulated under provincial legislation.
Built at a cost of $36 million, the generator is expected to generate gross revenues of up to $60 million per year. At the same time it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 50,00 tonnes per year.
“Cyclical processes – where waste from one activity becomes feedstock for another – are a key element of sustainability, and by investing in the turbo generator, the GVRD is once again demonstrating its leadership in sustainable practices,” said the GVRD Solid Waste Committee Chair, Don MacLean.


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