More growing pains, smoke for Cantimber

Commissioning trials are the cause behind emissions from Cantimber Biotech, according to the director of project development and research.

Commissioning trials continue to be the cause behind the smoky emissions from Cantimber Biotech, according to director of project development and research Michael Liu.

The facility, which has been com-missioning or testing for months now, is continuing to struggle with normalizing its emissions.

Residents on the south side of town began complaining last weekend of the smoky smell coming from Cantimber.

“There are two sides to the furnace… we’ve been testing the western half previously but this is the first time we’ve tested the eastern half,” said Liu.

“When you cold start the carbon-izing furnace you have to start it very, very slowly… we dry out the moisture and slowly bring it up to preset temperature.”

That process generates more emissions than it will once the plant is operating at its standard 400-plus degrees Celsius, Liu said.

The fuel for heating up the furnace also adds to emissions, he added.

“During this time, all that heat energy comes from the firewood and then what happens is that, during a cold start, you tend to have incomplete combustion which means that it tends to generate a bit more smoke.”

The plant is also designed to burn gas and not solid fuel.

“The plant is designed to, when it’s running normally, its fuel source is wood gas. Wood gas comes from the wood itself during pyrolysis and is mainly composed of methane, which is natural gas.”

Port Alberni air quality council chair Sarah Thomas said that while she was hopeful that emissions would cease when the plant was fully operational, the current smoke was still concerning.

“We’re concerned about current emissions but we have hope that they will be short term. In the short term its definitely causing concerns,” she added.

All of Cantimber Biotech’s operations, Liu said, are up to Ministry of Environment standards. While he said the company is in a bit of a regulatory grey zone—located on federal land but too small to be regulated by the feds’ environmental rules—they are complying with MoE standards upon the request of their landlords, the Port Alberni Port Authority.

An environmental study in line with those guidelines has been completed, Liu said, but due to patent-pending proprietary information contained within, the information inside will not be released until the patent is secured.

Anyone with concerns and questions regarding Cantimber Biotech’s operations is encouraged to e-mail info@cantimber.com, Liu added.

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