Mercer International believes its upgraded Celgar pulp mill in British Columbia perfect for becoming a biorefinery that will make pulp, green energy and biochemicals as part of new, promising bio-economy, company executive says

LOS ANGELES , July 16, 2012 () –

Mercer International Inc.’s upgraded Celgar pulp mill near Castlegar, British Columbia, is a prime candidate to become a biorefinery, said a company executive, reported the Vancouver Sun on July 14.

Since Mercer bought the mill in 2005, it has invested C$100 million to reduce effluent in a process that separates chemicals from the waste and recycles them back into the plant, and to generate 70 megawatts (MW) of heat and power that more than meets the mill’s needs.

Mercer sells its 30 MW of excess power to BC Hydro, and its generators are designed to increase capacity to 100 MW should it be needed for future growth or to sell to the grid, the Vancouver Sun reported.

And what is happening at Celgar is just the beginning of a move to a new and promising bio-economy that uses cellulose and chemicals contained in wood for a range of products, said Mercer senior vice president David Gandossi.

The Celgar mill is one of a number of British Columbia mills that is beginning to invest in producing new bio-products--from energy to bio-chemicals--derived from the province’s forests, reported the Vancouver Sun.

The bio-economy is a common subject of discussion as to how to ensure that the province “takes advantage of the opportunities in front of us,” Gandossi said.

Mercer is moving to a biorefinery concept in which mills will produce pulp as well as green energy and bio-chemicals in a bio-economy that is being pushed by a collaboration of forest industry sectors and the government, Gandossi said.

It has come about that the slash that companies have been burning or piling on roadsides to decay “actually has some value,” said John Innes, dean of the faculty of forestry at the University of British Columbia.

Pulp mills are not the only ones realizing the opportunities. Sawmills, too, are looking to produce energy from what was once considered waste, reported the Vancouver Sun.

Mercer, which is headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia, has a total annual production capacity of approximately 1.5 million tonnes/year at mills located in Germany, near Stendal and near Blankenstein, as well as at the Celgar mill.

The primary source of this article is the Vancouver Sun, Vancouver, British Columbia, on July 14, 2012.

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