Pfizer elevates green journey initiative with biomass boiler

By Matt Soberg | August 04, 2011

Multinational pharmaceutical giant Pfizer started a green journey initiative to commit itself to a more sustainable future. In July, Pfizer unveiled a biomass boiler at its Sanford, N.C., site, taking the company to the next level in reducing its environmental impact.

Pfizer plans to utilize this renewable energy to boost its pharmaceutical and prescription drug production. The $7.9 million project is part of Pfizer’s global manufacturing network. The Sanford site produces key vaccine components and is in the process of becoming Pfizer’s primary site for clinical and commercial launch of new vaccine supplies. 

The Sanford boiler uses wood chips for feedstock from local sources to generate steam for power and thermal energy. The technology uses a vibratory conveyor to move the wood to a silo and later to the boiler for burning. The boiler generates 20,700 pounds of steam per hour. The biomass process should generate up to 1,971 megawatt hours of electricity per year, reducing the company’s energy costs while expanding its goal of environmental sustainability.

To facilitate its strategic and integrated approach to further environmental objectives, Pfizer started an Environmental Sustainability Council, which will govern its green journey initiative. In addition to the Sanford biomass boiler, Pfizer installed a biomass boiler at its Friedburg, Germany, site and turned waste into boiler feed at a nutrition production site in Singapore, according to the 2010 Pfizer Environmental Annual Review.

The Friedburg Pfizer site created a culture of conservation, strengthened by its biomass boiler. According to the Michael Becker, director of engineering at Friedburg, the boiler has been successful in sustaining the environment using biomass. “Other fuels are limited, but wood is renewable,” he noted. The boiler can heat and cool a 600-square-meter office building without using fossil fuels. “The time is right and the energy is here,” he added.

Pfizer’s goal is to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent from 2008 to 2012 by utilizing heat and power from clean energy sources including biomass. According to its annual review, Pfizer continues to pursue opportunities to apply cleaner technologies.