Millar Western to Convert Pulp Mill Waste into Green Electricity

Millar Western Forest Products Ltd. is launching a bioenergy project to convert organic materials in wastewater at its Whitecourt, Alberta, Canada, pulp mill into biogas that will fuel reciprocating engines to generate green electricity. Captured waste heat from the process will be used to lower the mill's natural gas requirements. The company is currently pursuing necessary permits and, if approved, then project will take two years to complete.

The project will involve the use of an anaerobic hybrid digester, or AHD, to pre-treat pulp mill waste water before it enters the mill's existing aerobic treatment system. Though widely used in other industries, AHD technology is new to the pulp and paper sector.

Receiving C$17.5 million in funding from the province, the project will produce enough green energy to allow the company to draw 6.2 fewer megawatts from the grid to operate its mill. The system will produce enough green electricity to power some 6,500 homes annually.

The AHD technology will also lower the mill's direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions by about 50,000 metric ton per year, reduce water consumption, improve the quality of treated wastewater discharges, and cut the production of solid organic waste in half. Once proven at the Whitecourt pulp mill, the technology used in this project has the potential to make significant environmental improvements in pulp and paper mills across the country.

"Turning wood waste into renewable energy is an excellent example of how we can efficiently use our natural resources," said Environment Minister Rob Renner. "By promoting innovation, we are continually raising the bar for environmental performance in Alberta."

Provincial funding for the project comes from Alberta's share of the Canada ecoTrust for Clean Air and Climate Change. The ecoTrust distributed C$1.5 billion among all the provinces and territories to assist with clean air and climate change initiatives. Alberta's share is C$155.9 million.