Looking to follow through on its plans to develop biomass-driven biofuels plants in North America Raven Biofuels Nov. 7 announced that it is partnering with British Columbia’s Kamloops Indian Band (KIB), a local First Nations government, one of the largest of the 17 groups into which the Secwepemc, aka Shuswap, nation was divided when the Colony of British Columbia established an Indian reserve system in the 1860s.
Raven and KIB have signed a memorandum of understanding to aimed at developing and building a proposed ethanol biorefinery and cogeneration plant, according to a media release.
If it pans out, the agreement between KIB and Raven seems like a “win-win” situation. It would move second-generation, biomass-driven biofuels production into commercialization, bring clean transportation fuels, business and job creation to a First Nations territory, produce local fuel, power and heat, generate revenues from sales elsewhere, and address the fire hazards and other problems associated with beetle kill, which has decimated large areas of forest across western North America.
Wood waste to 2nd gen biofuels and cogeneration
As envisaged in the MoU, Raven would lead development and construction of a cogeneration power facility and biorefinery on a 30-acre site leased by KIB near Kamloops, BC.
Kamloops Indian Band would also provide access to feedstock resources. It has a multi-year provincial forestry agreement that gives it rights to 124,000 cubic meters of beetle-killed wood within the Kamloops Timber Supply Area. This agreement augments a five-year forest and range agreement signed in 2005 which granted KIB shared revenues and 272,000 cubic meters of timber.
Raven has estimated it would need to invest CAD 33 million (US$27.8 million) to develop the biorefinery, which would in turn generate some CAD 44 million (US$33 million) per year . No capital expenditure estimate was given for the cogeneration facility.
An initial study estimated an annual output of 7 million gallons per year of fuel grade ethanol and 4 million gallons of associated useful and “eco-friendly” chemicals: furfural, furfural alcohol and lignin cake. Based on current engineering and design, and the size of the site, the plant’s production could be doubled, according to Raven.
The refinery would provide jobs for some 30 people directly, as well as indirectly spur job creation related to securing biomass for feedstock. Part of further negotiations of a definitive agreement includes the completion of a feasibility study and an agreement with KIB for a continuous supply of some 500 dry ton per day of cellulose waste. This would come in the form of wood chips from mountain pine beetle-killed wood fiber as well as other wood waste, according to Raven.
Transportation planning and a feasibility study for the cogeneration plant are also to be undertaken. The latter would provide steam heat and electrical power to the biorefinery, as well as possibly supplying power to the regional grid.
The feasibility of KIB becoming an equity investor in Raven and/or the plant, as well as setting up a Raven-KIB employment training program, are also being considered. Moreover, the two parties are looking into the possibility of establishing Raven as a First Nations commercial brand offering a full line of renewable fuels and eco-friendly specialty chemicals, as well as E85 fuel stations, in British Columbia and other parts of Canada.