The Bioenergy Research & Demonstration Facility on the Vancouver campus of the University of British Columbia (UBC) is the first demonstration of its kind in the world of a community-scale combined heat and power (CHP) system fueled by biomass.
UBC is a community of some 50,000 students, staff, faculty and residence, with over 400 buildings, occupying a site of 400 hectares. Like many communities around the world, UBC is striving to meet its power needs while reducing its impact on the environment. The Bioenergy Research & Demonstration Facility responds to this challenge while demonstrating a small-scale power production that is relevant and replicable in other communities.
The Bioenergy Research & Demonstration Facility building itself and the campus location on cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean make a bold esthetic statement. The four-story, architecturally striking building showcases BC wood-based construction cross-laminated timber (CLT), an innovative wood-based structural system that demonstrates low carbon, low environmental impact and BC-based building technologies. CLT is promoted as a replacement for steel or concrete in multi-storey residential and commercial buildings. The building is sited within a forested area of the campus adjacent to the student residences, research labs and operations facilities.
The system, fueled by biomass, produces synthesis (syn) gas in a high-temperature, low-oxygen atmosphere reactor. The syngas is burned in raw form in a boiler to produce steam and can also be conditioned to create an ultraclean syn gas that is injected into an internal combustion engine used to generate electricity.
The system provides both heat and power to UBC’s Vancouver campus. It also facilitates research to optimize the generation of feedstock (fuel) and process innovations, and has set new global standards for performance and emissions by substantially decreasing the campus’s greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) and fossil fuel consumption.
The University of British Columbia’s leadership in sustainability is evident through its Climate Action Plan. In 2007, UBC met its Kyoto Protocol targets of reducing greenhouse gas emissions on core academic buildings by six per cent below 1990 levels, despite a floor space increase of 35 percent and student enrolment increase of 48 per cent between 1990 and 2007. The University further commits to reducing GHGs from 2007 levels:
By 33 per cent by 2015
By 67 per cent by 2020
By 100 per cent by 2050
The Bioenergy Research & Demonstration Facility is a partnership between UBC and two of the world’s leading developers of green technology – Vancouver-based Nexterra Systems Corporation and GE Energy. UBC and GE Power and Water, the subsidiary of GE Energy involved in the project, are members of the International District Energy Association (IDEA).
The facility is a “Campus as a Living Laboratory” project integrating UBC’s core academic mandate (research and teaching) with the University’s infrastructure and business operations. UBC is committed to taking advantage of its unique capacity for research and problem solving to embrace and deploy leading-edge technology and concepts using the campus infrastructure as a real-world demonstration and testing lab.
Read more about funding, partners, etc. here