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Canadian company to debut new biomass boiler technology

By Anna Austin | October 18, 2011

Calgary, Alberta, Canada-based Firebox Energy Systems Ltd. has announced plans to build a 30-megawatt (MW) biomass power plant on the designated lands of Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation Reserve #133 near Glenevis, Alberta.

The $60 million John W. Murray Biomass Plant will essentially serve as a demonstration facility for the company’s platform Air Boiler technology, said CEO Jason Janus. Describing the technology, Janus said the system is designed so that only clean hot air moves through the turbine itself. “Compared to a traditional gas turbine, rather than the combustion of fuel occurring within the turbine, the Air Boiler system places the fuel combustion in the flexible fuel furnace that’s adjacent to the turbine, and the overall system is designed to collect the heat generated inside the furnace and utilize it for the turbine’s operation.”

Since the combustion of the fuels and the resulting exhaust gases are always kept separate from the turbine operation, the quality of the fuel source doesn’t matter, he added, and the system does not require the use of water to operate.

When the biomass plant is complete in early 2013, it will send 97 percent of its electrical output to the grid, according to Janus, and 3 percent will be utilized at an industrial combined-heat-and-power greenhouse that the Alexis Nakota Sioux will own and operate.

Janus said fuel for the plant will be forest debris, including pine beetle damaged wood. If the plant proves successful, plans are in the works for a much larger, 270-MW power facility on the same land.