Workhorses of the Power Industry

The July/August issue of Biomass Magazine includes articles on utilization of wasted heat at a biomass power plant, an oil-to-biomass conversion at a tire manufacturing operation,conducting high-efficiency shutdowns, and more.
By Anna Simet | June 27, 2019

It is widely believed the first steam boiler was invented in 1867 by American inventors George Babcock and Steven Wilcox. Fast-forward to today, and the same company founded by the duo over 150 years ago is still manufacturing and installing boilers for a vast array of applications, all across the globe. One particular instance is at Burgess Biopower, a 75-MW power plant featured on the cover of this issue, and the topic of my page-12 feature, “Capturing the Value of Waste Heat.”

In fact, B&W installed the original boiler in 1993, when it was a Fraser pulp mill. Decades later when the facility was purchased by its current owner, the firm was hired to perform retrofits that enabled the facility to use wood chips as fuel to produce electricity and steam. All along, the plan had been to partner with others to utilize the plant’s waste heat. Now, that vision is nearly a reality, via projects with a large-scale greenhouse, and the plant’s home town of Berlin, New Hampshire.

More on our theme of boilers, turbines and generators, Senior Editor Ron Kotrba had the opportunity to discuss Sweden-based Trelleborg Wheel System’s transition from fuel oil to biomass with company President Paolo Pompei. The company is utilizing India-based Thermax Ltd.’s automated Combipac steam boilers, which will not only cut emissions drastically, but save energy and protect the soil, according to Pompei. He reiterated the company’s motivation is mostly environmental, declining to discuss cost or any potential fuel savings. Instead, he told Kotrba, “This is a key milestone project in achieving a reduction in the carbon footprint within the whole organization—something where we have put huge investment.”

Further into this month’s issue, in our page-24 contribution on high-efficiency shutdowns by Evergreen Engineering’s Rebecca Knecht, she walks readers through the necessary steps to ensure effective and efficient outages, which include routine inspections of boilers, pressure vessels, piping, tanks and other plant components. No matter the preparation, however, Knecht points out that every boiler outage will have discovery, or unforeseen repair work identified during inspections. She emphasizes that no matter the caliber of the discover work, it should be documented. That way, it will help track future costs, highlight any failure patterns and identify areas that may need additional focus on preventative maintenance.

Rounding out our roster of feature and contribution articles, on page 26, we’ve included a self-heating hazards piece by Vahid Ebadat, CEO of Stonehouse Process Safety Inc. While not exactly aligning with the theme of this edition, it is certainly relevant. As Ebadat points out, as the industry expands with new installations, conversions and retrofits, now is the time for the industry to understand and learn how to mitigate the inherent risks that come with utilization of biomass material.

Author: Anna Simet