Biomass cogeneration plant at Nippon paper mill undergoing tests

By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Testing begins in earnest this week for the newly expanded cogeneration plant at the Nippon Paper Industries USA paper mill in Port Angeles, mill Manager Harold Norlund said Monday.

The biomass generator was synchronized to fit the wavelength of the Bonneville Power Administration, or BPA, grid on Nov. 29, producing 3 megawatts of electricity from the mill at the base of Ediz Hook.

When the generator was revved up to its intended 20-megawatt output last Wednesday, operators discovered that the fuel was unstable and the drum level was unsteady.

“We shut down and corrected the fuel distribution angle,” Norlund told a Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce audience at the chamber’s weekly luncheon.

“Once we did that, we started up the boiler. It was much steadier.”

The second run at 20 megawatts occurred Sunday.

“It’s better than it was a few days ago,” Norlund said.

“The boiler was steady. We’ve done some tuning on different parts of the controls.”

The generator is connected to a turbine that is turned by steam produced from the burning of woody debris, or hog fuel, in a new boiler built as part of Nippon’s $85 million biomass expansion.

The new boiler has been operational for about 45 days and has been working in tandem with the plant’s old boiler.

BPA officials were on site Monday to read the meter at 20 megawatts. Three days of compliance testing on the equipment was scheduled to begin today.

“The next part that they will go through is called performance testing,” Norlund said.

“And that will be everything from running the boiler working to the max to environmental testing for all the pieces of equipment.”

The boiler will be shut down for about three days later this month for final modifications before the plant becomes fully operational.

Twenty megawatts is about the amount of electricity needed to power half of the city of Port Angeles.

Electricity produced at the Nippon mill will be sold as renewable energy.

Norlund reported that the new boiler is “burning far more efficiently” than the old cogeneration boiler, meaning Nippon is producing less ash and squeezing “every bit of energy that we can out of that product.”

“We are very proud of this product and its ability to produce renewable energy right here in Port Angeles,” Norlund said.

A crowd of about 50 attended the luncheon at the Port Angeles Red Lion Hotel, including state Reps. Steve Tharinger and Kevin Van De Wege, both Democrats from the Sequim-Dungeness Valley.

Norlund announced that Nippon has received honorable mention for a BPA Governor’s Award for Leadership in Innovation.

“This project needed to be high efficiency in order to be competitive,” Norlund said.

Port Angeles Mayor Cherie Kidd was expected to join Nippon officials at the award’s ceremony this evening in Olympia.

Meanwhile, the Olympic Region Clean Air Agency has installed a $90,000 device at the Port Angeles fire station on Fifth Street to monitor emissions of ultrafine particles from Nippon and other sources as part of a University of Washington study.

The biomass project burns at about 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit and produces steam of about 950 degrees.

The Nippon expansion was unsuccessfully challenged by environmental groups.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at rollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: December 09. 2013 6:47PM
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