Port Townsend Paper upgrades boiler to biomass

By Lisa Gibson | October 28, 2010

The Washington Department of Ecology has given Port Townsend Paper Corp. in Port Townsend, Wash., the go ahead to upgrade a boiler at its mill to run on waste wood, including some forest biomass.

PTPC and partner Sterling Energy Assets have proposed a cogeneration project to install a new steam turbine generator that will extract steam from the upgraded boiler and the recovery furnace to support mill operations. The project would also generate 25 megawatts of electricity for the grid.

After a review process and public comment period, the Department of Ecology issued an order allowing the upgrade. “The comments we received spanned a wide range—from full support to complete opposition,” said Laurie Davies, manager for the Ecology program overseeing the mill’s air and water permits. “Ecology’s job was to thoroughly evaluate the mill’s project and the public’s feedback to decide if the project complies with current environmental requirements. We did and found no reason to deny this project.” The order also sets more stringent pollution limits than the mill’s current limits, according to Ecology.

The department’s analysis shows the system upgrades will decrease certain air pollutants such as particulate matter, nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide, it said. There will be some increases in carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds emissions. Davies said some people who commented were concerned about carbon dioxide emission increases and had questions about the use of biomass.

The project also includes installation of a modified solid fuel handling system for the upgraded boiler to allow transportation of the fuel to the boiler in a more direct route, according to PTPC’s Notice of Construction Application. Two new solid fuel storage piles will also be added to the Port Townsend Mill and a new haul road route will be utilized to allow hog fuel to be transported from the existing barge unloading system to the existing hog fuel storage pile via truck, according to the notice. Currently, hog fuel is transported from the barge unloading system to the hog fuel pile via the existing chip reclaim system.

 The $55 million project is scheduled to begin operation in 2012.