Located in an industrial area of Burnaby, British Columbia, the Burnaby municipal solid waste (MSW) incinerator is a key part of the integrated waste management system in the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD).
Built in 1988, the incinerator is designed to attain a minimum 85 per cent availability and a minimum plant throughput of 210,000 tonnes per year. The plant exceeds these expectations: availability averages 94 per cent and throughput averages 250,000 tonnes per year.
The plant has three identical mass burn processing lines; each incinerates 10 tonnes of waste per hour and produces three tonnes of steam for every tonne. (This produces the equivalent of 166,000 MWh of energy each year.) Steam is sold to a nearby paper recycling facility, offsetting its consumption of fossil fuels.
The air pollution control plant consists of a conditioning tower, dry lime injection reactor, and a fabric filter baghouse for each line. Activated carbon is injected with the lime to encapsulate mercury from the flue gas stream. This activated carbon system is one of the first mercury control systems installed in North America and has reduced vaporous mercury emissions to one-third of the allowed legal limit. An aqueous ammonia injection system was installed in September 1996 and has reduced nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions by 30 per cent–well below new provincial regulations.
Bottom ash amounts to about 18 per cent of the incoming waste (or 44,000 tonnes per year). Magnets remove 7,000 tonnes of ferrous metals from this ash each year for sale to a recycling company. Bottom ash is transported by the operator for disposal and for use as road base material. The GVRD has recently received environmental approval to utilize bottom ash as a road sub-base material outside of landfill sites.
Annually, 7,000 tonnes of fly ash are captured by the pollution
control system. This has been managed as a special waste due to its potential to leach lead. The GVRD is in the process of installing a WES-PHix treatment system (an addition of phosphoric acid to the fly ash) to allow it to be reclassified as a non-special waste. It will then be disposed of in a regular landfill, or possibly be used for beneficial applications (which are under consideration at this time).
Tip fees & innovation
The tip fee at the incinerator is $65 per tonne (a regional rate) which is the average of all the costs for the district to provide 3R services, retire debt, and operate the incinerator, transfer stations, and landfills. (The tip fee does not cover collection costs.)
The GVRD is proactively working in conjunction with the federal government to develop innovative neural network computer technology (a process control tool to reduce energy or materials consumption and environmental releases) that will improve efficiencies in the operation of the plant and reduce emissions to the environment. The federal government plans to market this technology internationally. In 1990, the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) recognized the Burnaby Incinerator by awarding the GVRD with a “Waste-to-Energy Meritorious Achievement Award.”
Written by Chantal Babensee, P.Eng., a project engineer at the solid waste department for the greater vancouver regional district, british columbia.