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Commissioning of a Cogeneration Facility in Thunder Bay to Maximize Energy Recovery in the Absence of Biogas Storage

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The City of Thunder Bay recently commissioned a gas engine cogeneration facility to maximize onsite electrical power generation using biogas generated by biosolids treatment in the Atlantic Avenue Water Pollution Control Plant's four anaerobic digesters as the principal fuel source. The 600 kW Caterpillar G3512 engine-generator package includes a gas pretreatment system for removal of hydrogen sulfide and siloxanes from the biogas. While the cogeneration system is designed to operate on biogas, natural gas, or an infinite variable blend of the two fuel gases, the program requirements of the electrical utility participating in the funding of the project, Thunder Bay Hydro, necessitated that biogas be used as the principal fuel source for the cogeneration system and further that the use of natural gas be limited for servicing of the engine only. In addition to serving as a fuel source for the cogeneration system, the biogas is also available as a fuel source for the plant's hot water boiler system. Excess biogas is flared to prevent over pressurization of the digester gas system when biogas supply exceeds demand as there is no pressurized storage. Power generated onsite is tied into the plant's onsite 4160 volt electrical distribution system. Another requirement of Thunder Bay Hydro was that at no time was any power to be exported from the plant's system to the Thunder Bay Hydro grid. Heat recovery from the cogeneration system was also required to reduce the costs of boiler operation using natural gas rather than biogas that was now being used to generate power. The challenges presented by these requirements, as well as the interaction of other systems in the normal day-to-day and season-to-season operation of a municipal waste water treatment facility, are reviewed.

Keywords: Bioenergy; Cogeneration; biogas; emissions control; energy production; energy recovery

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2011-01-01

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