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Pulp Mill waste could be turned into fuel

The inventor of a chemical process that could turn pulp mill waste into fuel for cars or even run the mills themselves says the technology could reap millions of dollars.

pulp mill wasteChemist Mark Logan, who once worked for Canfor Corp.’s Intercontinental Pulp Mill in Prince George, B.C., has been issued a U.S. patent on the technology that would use so-called soap-derived refinery feedstock to make biodiesel.

What’s known in the industry as soap is plentiful at any pulp mill, as is the need to burn diesel for various functions at such a facility.

Logan, who also has an international patent in the works, said a small mill could use the method to increase revenue by about $3 million a year and a large mill could reap nearly $7 million annually.

“We’re not talking about making pharmaceuticals and things that have to be tested or clinically graded,” he said. “It is a product that uses what is on site waste and turns it into something the mill can use on site right away.”

Any mill that buys the technology would need to install equipment to render the waste into diesel but most of it can be handled by existing pulp mi l l equipment, Logan said. “The amount of money to get up and running is only five to 10 per cent of what you’d have to invest to build a stand-alone plant.”

Logan has presented the idea to all nine pulp mills in northern B.C. and Alberta. Together, the mills could generate 13.4 million litres of biodiesel and put $40 million into the region’s forestry industry, he said.

Warkentin, CEO of a Prince George company that produces residual byproducts from pulp mill waste, said millions of litres of diesel would come from a source other than fossil fuels or plants needed for food.

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