Surrey-turn-waste-to-biogas

Surrey facility to turn organic waste into biogas

North America's first closed-loop, fully integrated organics waste management system.
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
by Cheryl Mah

A new organics biofuel processing facility in Surrey will be the first and largest of its kind in North America. When completed, the facility will be the first closed-loop, fully integrated organics waste management system that will play an integral role in achieving the city’s sustainability targets.

Being delivered as a public-private partnership (P3), the $68 million facility will receive and process 115,000 tonnes of organic waste annually and output more than 7 million cubic metres of biogas. The biogas will be captured, refined and then injected into the FortisBC grid.

The facility will convert residential and commercial kitchen and yard waste into renewable natural gas. The natural gas (up to 160,000 gigajoules) will be used to power the city’s natural gas waste collection trucks, natural gas service fleet and new district energy system. The facility will also produce compost (up to 40,000 tonnes) suitable for landscaping and agricultural applications.

A consortium led by Orgaworld Canada was selected by the City of Surrey to design, build, finance, maintain and operate the facility for 25 years. Partners include Stantec Architecture Ltd. and general contractor Smith Bros. & Wilson (BC) Ltd. Orgaworld is a Dutch-based company specializing in organic waste recycling with facilities in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Canada.

“This project is a milestone for meeting the sustainability goals we have set for Surrey,” says Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner. “It will reduce CO2 emissions in Surrey by 40,000 tonnes a year – that’s equivalent of taking 8,500 cars of the road per year.”

Construction started in April 2015 and completion is expected for early 2017. The 150,000 square foot facility is being built on 6.6 acres next to the Metro Vancouver transfer station in Port Kells. It is a tilt-up and cast-in-place structure with a structural steel roof deck, truss and joists. The project will include composting tunnels, biogas hybrid tunnels and a fully integrated odour abatement system.

Jeff Musialek, vice president at Smith Bros. & Wilson, reports the project is well underway with 80 per cent of the foundations poured. “We’re pouring the tilt up panels right now and the structural steel will arrive in another month.”

The biggest construction milestone to date is the erection of the facility’s 230 foot high dispersion stack, which is comprised of four pieces each weighing approximately 176,000 lbs. Once operational, 100 per cent of the treated waste air from the facility will be sent through the stack, making it a critical component of the facility’s state-of-the-art odour mitigation system.

“The odour abatement system is comprised of a number of different systems including the dispersion stack… ammonia scrubbing, biofiltration as well as some cooling,” says Orgaworld project manager Ryan Lauzon, noting 150 – 200 people are expected on site at peak of construction in the spring/summer.

Integrating the building’s ventilation components to accommodate the facility’s complex processes will be key.

“The entire structure is under negative pressure and maintained that way to enhance the process and as well to prevent any impact on the community. It’s a system we’ve developed over the last 20 years in Netherlands and optimized, especially the odour mitigation in Canada over the last seven years,” says Lauzon, noting the facility uses anaerobic and aerobic digestion technology.

The technology and special mechanical equipment are new to North America and will come from a supplier in the Netherlands. “We had to adapt the European standards to North America and make sure the equipment meets CSA standards,” says Musialek, adding they also had to adapt the concrete mix design and paint coating system in order to accommodate the highly caustic/acidic nature of the materials inside the building.

The one-storey biofuel processing area covers most of the building footprint with a three-storey administration area attached on the west end, which serves as the entry. The main administrative level houses offices and a laboratory. The second level contains the staff amenities and the third level provides space for visitors with a conference room and a roof garden.

The administration area features a glulam structure with extensive glazing which is a striking departure aesthetically from traditional industrial building boxes. The facility will also be painted in different colour blocks to reflect the processes happening inside (eg. black for the waste receiving area) with green being the most prominent colour.

“Stantec came up with a colour coding system to define the building to make it stand out,” explains Musialek. “The building is meant to be a prominent feature for the city where they can bring school kids and the public out for tours. Most of the time these types of buildings are hidden but this is a showcase for Surrey.”

The project has been progressing smoothly so far, according to Lauzon, but the site did have soft soil which required some ground improvement work.

“We had to use rapid impact compaction to prepare the site for construction. We spent a month and half rattling and banging to improve the site’s density,” he says, adding RIC is a cost effective technique as is the use of tilt-up construction. Erecting the walls with tilt-up panels is faster than building walls using traditional construction techniques.

“Generally with any P3 projects the schedule is always very tight so continually delivering against the schedule is a challenge. Tilt-up will allow us to maintain that tight schedule,” he says.

The unique facility will set a benchmark for organic waste processing in North America and serve as a model for green infrastructure projects.

“It’s an amazing innovative project. I think every municipality should be looking at this facility,” says Musialek. “Landfills have been the way to deal with waste. This building will show that we can process materials in it with low odour and high quality materials coming out and a positive energy use for the community. It basically turns garbage into gold.”

Lauzon agrees and expects more similar types of facilities in the near future, “It’s a groundbreaking facility for North America. The facility’s capacity for processing and sorting municipal organics and delivering biogas to the grid is in itself a great achievement.”

Both credit strong team collaboration for the project running efficiently and smoothly.

“We’ve had great co-operation from our partners – the City of Surrey, Smith Bros and Waste Treatment Technology out of the Netherlands. We’re proud to be part of a great project,” says Lauzon.

Cheryl Mah is managing editor of Construction Business. 

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