to power up the Sault
By Ian Ross
Northern Ontario Business
May 5, 2004
Sault Ste. Marie could be the site of one of the world’s
first commercial uses of a cogeneration plant powered
by bio oil.
A consortium of leading private energy players and the
Sault’s Public Utilities Commission announced plans in
late March to install a 2.5-megawatt cogeneration plant
to power and heat the city’s two government forest laboratories.
DynaMotive, a Vancouver-based energy company, has developed
a patented ‘fast pyrolysis’ process that converts wood
waste into an
environmentally-friendly fuel known as bio oil, used to
generate green power.
They have teamed up with Magellan Aerospace of Mississauga,
a leader in advanced turbine technology, who have adapted
a natural gas and diesel-fired turbine that runs on bio
The participants, including the City of Sault Ste. Marie,
have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding to conduct
a feasibility study to develop the power project. The
cogeneration plant would contain a turbine and heat recovery
equipment located on a site between the Great Lakes Forestry
Centre and the Ontario Forest Research Institute.
“We thought the fit was really good in terms of the type
of thermal and electrical load for the two forestry research
facilities,” says Brian Curran, president and CEO of the
Sault Ste. Marie Public Utilities Commission.
If the feasibility study, expected to be complete by August,
presents a good business case, a plant could be operating
on the research campus sometime in 2005, subject to successful
negotiation of commercial agreements.
No project price tag is yet available.
Curran expresses confidence in DynaMotive’s 10-year-old
technology and believes they will successfully demonstrate
bio oil to be a cheaper,
renewable, environmentally-friendly alternative to conventional
heating oil and natural gas.
DynaMotive and Magellan are building a 2.5-megawatt demonstration
plant in West Lorne, Ont. using wood waste and the pyrolysis
process, which produces bio oil that goes into a Magellan
The project received federal funding from the Sustainable
Technology Development Fund.
“The technology we believe is proven and that will be
confirmed with the (West) Lorne project that will be running
in June,” says Curran.
A bio oil refinery supplying the Sault project would be
located elsewhere, likely closer to the source of feedstock.
DynaMotive is talking with forest product companies to
supply the biomass waste material.
Curran says the PUC began showing interest last year in
installing a cogeneration plant for the city’s proposed
new hospital. Rather than fire it by natural gas, they
realized there were significant wood waste resources from
numerous nearby pulp and paper operations.
“Why wouldn’t we be looking at something that could use
the indigenous resources, rather than import natural gas
from the West?” says Curran, who adds countries such as
Sweden and Finland already make “tremendous use” of biomass
and are considered world leaders in this type of plant
The PUC became aware of how Magellan adapted a turbine
to operate on bio oil and how DynaMotive was aggressively
marketing their technology and were quite active in Northern
From the start, Curran says feedstock would include lumber
and wood waste, but if the technology becomes a viable
economic alternative to oil and natural gas, the area’s
supply could run out. There is the possibility down the
road of also using municipal sludge in the process.
“We are working with DynaMotive to see if we can do something
in Sault Ste. Marie. That’s another project, but it certainly
If this made-in-Canada technology is commercially adopted,
Curran says it could spawn new employment opportunities
with dedicated tree farms using rapid growth and unused
tree species that could be harvested quickly and could
make use of lands not in production in Northern Ontario.