WPAC 2014 opens with Fibreco tour

By Tim Portz | November 17, 2014

The Wood Pellet Association of Canada’s annual conference got underway on Nov. 17 and a sizeable contingent of conference attendees took part in a tour of the Fibreco chip and pellet terminal in North Vancouver, British Columbia.

The Fibreco terminal is nestled tightly on the north side of Vancouver harbor on just 23 acres of land. The terminal makes the most of what it has however, offering 45,000 tons of covered pellet storage on site and 50,000 tons of chip storage. 

The terminal receives wood pellets by rail and its 10 on-property-tracks can hold 114 rail cars at one time. The Fibreco team works diligently to quickly unload rail cars once they arrive or the rail yard can quickly become a bottleneck. The cars are unloaded by a hulking Rotary Railcar Dumper that turns the car upside down allowing for the rapid unloading of the nearly 100 tons of pellets each car carries. The terminal can unload approximately six rail cars per hour. The pellets drop into a conveying system and are whisked away to one of two covered storage options at the terminal.

The terminal has both covered flat storage and silo storage. The flat storage offering is a large white storage shed capable of holding 18,000 tons of pellets. The shed was built by stretching a water tight fabric over a steel frame and wood pellets enter the structure from a conveyor at the top. As pellets are fed through the conveyor a pile begins to form and the angle of repose pushes the pellets towards the facilities interior boundaries. 

The facility also uses six storage silos to provide for another 27,000 tons of storage. The silos offer the facility the ability to segregate pellets from different suppliers but the terminal is moving away from this strategy in 2015. Together, the flat and silo storage allow the facility to store approximately one handy sized vessel worth of wood pellets.

An array of material conveyors connects the rail car unloading station with the storage options and eventually with the facilities ship loading infrastructure. A conveyor reaches well out into the harbor and delivers pellets to the versatile ship loader at the end of structure. The ship loader allows the terminal to position the pellet output in a number of different ways, which allows operators to fill multiple holds without repositioning the vessel, a costly endeavor which terminal operators avoid when they can. Running wide open the terminal is capable of loading a ship at 1650 tons per hour, but the practical rate is closer to 900 tons per hour.

In a typical month Fibreco will load between five and sixvessels, three or four of which will be loaded with pellets. Eyeing the early indications of growth in Asian pellet markets, Fibreco ownership has the terminal positioned for growth. Permitting is already in place to double the capacity of the flat storage facility and additional land is available upon which to build even more storage. 

The Wood Pellet Association of Canada 2014 Conference continues through Nov. 19.