Testing to begin before Nippon biomass facility goes online next month
Dave Logan/for Peninsula Daily News
The conical silo of Nippon Paper Industries’ new biomass cogeneration plant has quickly become a landmark in Port Angeles.
By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News
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“We're doing checkouts of various pieces of equipment,” mill manager Harold Norlund said last week from his Ediz Hook office.
He sat in front of a picture window dominated by the cogeneration plant's conical biomass-fuel silo and related buildings.
Collectively, they will create steam to make paper and generate 20 megawatts of electricity for the mill and for sale.
“Everything you see has to be commissioned,” he said, sweeping his arm across the scene.
“We have to flush lines, flush pipes, make sure they don't have any rust or debris.
“Everything has to be checked, thousands and thousands of things.”
That includes hydraulic equipment, valves, fuel lines and a snakelike mass of external piping that carries water, steam and air between the boiler and the mill.
It includes all parts moving and otherwise in a 30-foot cooling tower, the 110-foot boiler and a 115-foot cone-shaped wood-waste-fuel silo — structures that have altered the skyscape west of downtown Port Angeles.
Also being tested is a “truck dump” that lifts vehicles filled with biomass high in the air — tractor, trailer and all — and dumps the wood waste out the back.
“The headlights are pointing at the sky,” Norlund said.
The biomass is transported by conveyor belt to the top of the silo, which has a capacity of 3½ days of fuel.
“If something has to be adjusted or corrected, we fix it right then,” Norlund said.
“That's part of commissioning.”
The project has survived appeals before the state Shoreline Hearings Board and Thurston County Superior Court that began before construction commenced in June 2011.
Opponents have been concerned about air pollution, though the company has maintained — and the Olympic Region Clean Air Agency has agreed — that Nippon has fulfilled all state and federal pollution-control laws.
Once online, what is emitted from Nippon “will be cleaner than it is today,” Norlund said.
It will include operational testing of the plant's design capacity and additional steam and air emissions that some residents may notice, Norlund said.
“That doesn't mean we are starting up because we're not there yet,” Norlund said.
The commissioning process also includes curing the boiler's refractory, a cement-like insulation that protects the boiler tubes from erosion or overheating.
The boiler will be slowly heated over two or three days to evaporate moisture, though the process will be devoid of odor or air emissions.
When curing begins, the boiler will be fired for the first time.
The cost of the new plant originally was estimated at $71 million.
It rose to $85 million because of higher-than-expected costs for the cooling tower and redesign of the fuel silo and foundation.
The fuel silo was redesigned from a flat containment structure to a vertical structure, which fits better in the space it's been allotted, Norlund has said.
Visitors are not allowed on the site.
“It's like an Indy 500 pit-stop where you don't want someone standing there when the car comes in,” Norlund said.
The Port Townsend Paper Corp.'s $55 million, 24-megawatt biomass cogeneration expansion has been delayed until 2014 or 2015.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last modified: August 31. 2013 6:29PM