Energy Innovation at Quesnel River Pulp

West Fraser’s pulp mills are constantly looking to incorporate new technologies and innovation to reduce our energy consumption, greenhouse gas (GHG’s) emissions and the impact of effluents (waste water used from the pulping process) on water quality.

We often focus on new opportunities, but there are many ongoing projects that deserve some recognition too, like Quesnel River Pulp’s support for SilvaGro nursery, a partnership that has lasted for two decades.

When water is finished its cycle in the pulping process, it can be quite hot. Typically, pulp mills run this heated effluent through a heat exchanger to cool the water down. A heat exchanger works like your car radiator. A radiator’s fluid runs around your car engine to collect heat off the metal, and a fan pulls the heat out of the fluid to keep your car from overheating by evaporating the heat from the car into the air.

Quesnel River Pulp operates a heat exchanger on the same principle. After the effluent cycles through the heat exchanger, it cools the mill’s wastewater before it is returned to the Fraser River.

However, Quesnel River Pulp goes a step further to reduce the temperature even lower.  The mill created a pipe system that carries the warm effluent down from the mill to the nearby SilvaGro nursery before it rejoins the Fraser River. This provides a number of environmental and energy advantages for both West Fraser and SilvaGro. The effluent that flows through the pipes near SilvaGro helps heat the tree seedling nursery. By heating the nursery, the water cools down a few more degrees before it meets the river. This simple system is capable of providing 25% of the nursery’s heat. SilvaGro has 66 large greenhouses growing 250,000 young, growing seedlings each, so this partnership results in significant energy and cost savings.

The relationship between West Fraser and SilvaGro is a good example of the partnerships we build with other organizations in our community to find opportunities to work together. SilvaGro saves energy and costs on the trees they grow for West Fraser, and Quesnel River Pulp has a natural system to reduce the temperature of our effluent when it runs into the river, which is a great help to West Fraser’s commitment to ensuring safe water quality in the Fraser.