The installation of four 110-ton boilers on site at the Thurso pulp mill this week not only marks a crucial step in converting the mill to a full-time specialized dissolving pulp producer, it also marks the beginning of some other notable changes for the Quebec facility.
Construction on a brand new 25-megawatt cogeneration plant will begin this summer. Capturing excess heat and steam from the process of making dissolving pulp, the cogeneration plant will convert these energy sources into power for both the mill and the province of Quebec. Initial plans see Fortress exporting 18.8 megawatts of energy to the provincial power grids over a 15-year term with the remaining energy used to power the Thurso mill and its operations.
But energy isn’t the only thing that this new facility could produce. Thurso plant manager Marco Veilleux told Le Droit last week that the additions to the mill could also lead to the inclusion of a biorefinery – a facility that integrates biomass conversion to produce numerous byproducts.
“Reflection on exactly what we want to do is coming,” he told the French newspaper. “Our process is one that will extract an enormous amount of sugars from our materials and there are lots of products that can be developed with these sugars.”
Indeed, there are more than one hundred products that can be created as a result of biorefineries Luc Bouthillier, a professor in wood and forestry sciences at Laval University, told Le Droit. Plastics, pharmaceuticals, lubricants, industrial vinegars, alcohols and adhesives are only some of the options.
For now, though, the Thurso mill will concentrate on its current changes – another of which includes the planting of 5000 poplars to create a “visual barrier” around the mill and could also allow for potential environmental research in the future.