ICE heats up Pytrade project

Pytrade has finally received word from the province that its application for an Innovative Clean Energy (ICE) grant has been approved.

Pytrade has finally received word from the province that its application for an Innovative Clean Energy (ICE) grant has been approved.

And with that $1 million grant, Pytrade’s Erich Fussl says his pyrolisis plant project is now good to go.

The total project cost is estimated at $7.5 million, forty per cent of which Pytrade has already invested through the up  front manufacture of the equipment and components for the plant.

That has been sitting in Germany waiting for news of the ICE grant.

Now Pytrade will also get the banks involved to complete the financing package.

Explaining the pyrolisis process in simple terms, Fussl said the feedstock would be wood chips, hog fuel and the like which will be dried in a rotary drum to reduce the moisture content to 6-10 per cent.

The material then goes into the pyrolisis unit which is a heated space in a oxygen-free chamber.

It is pushed against the heated surface and, given the lack of oxygen, it does not burn but vapourises instead.

The vapour goes into a condensation unit where it cools to a liquid – pyrolisis oil.

The oil is filtered to remove any solids, then goes to a modified diesel engine which produces electricity.

Pointing out the oil needs no upgrades or conditioning prior to use in the diesel, Fussl said, “It’s a pure fuel out of wood waste.”

Emphasizing this is not a pilot project, he pointed out they have had a plant operating in Germany since 2006. “We have a proven, reliable concept.”

What Fussl describes as one of the key attractions of the whole project is the 1.2 megawatts of electricity produced will be used to heat four greenhouse 30ft x 100ft.

And he has already received an indication that a “large retail chain” would be prepared to take all the organic produce grown in them.

The Kitimat project will also serve as a demonstration plant for the North American market. While the process is proven, Fussl said potential buyers first want to see an operational plant on this continent.

As for feedstock supply, Pytrade has lined up long term suppliers – that was one of the ICE conditions.

“We would also like to work with the Haisla Nation,” he said, adding he understood they had been “an active supplier” to Eurocan which of course ended when the mill closed.

The plant will need about one truckload of waste a day.

Pointing to the modular nature of the plants, Fussl said that meant that in the future – finances and feedstock supply permitting – it would be possible to add another unit and double the output. “You can really build something over time.”

As for location of the plant, Fussl said it would go on a piece of property adjacent to the railway line and to the north of the old railway station in the Service Centre.

“It is a long strip, about 20 acres,” he said.

Next steps will include settling the financing arrangements, site preparation and bringing over the equipment from Germany. “We’re looking forward to getting going,” he added.

Mayor Joanne Monaghan, who has been working with Fussl on this project for two years, feels the same way.

“It’s kind of like playing the lottery for so long and all at once you win and you can’t believe it,” she said.

And she is hopeful it will lead to bigger things. “Once we get our foot in the greenhouse door, I think it will grow. It’s got so much potential, but it’s trying to convince people it’s going to work,” she added.