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By Kevin Hogan on September 6 2017
Big news for us here at Northwood, our next capital project is under way and has been announced publicly! You can find the press release at http://www.canfor.com/investor-relations/investor-news-press-releases/news-detail/2017/07/26/canfor-pulp-announces-northwood-and-taylor-pulp-mill-energy-projects, which also talks about the capital project going on at the Taylor Pulp Mill.
In my last blog post, I had briefly described the liquor recovery cycle and how this ties into energy generation. This process involves generated steam being sent to two back pressure turbines to generate electricity, and with this capital project, Northwood will be adding a new, 32 megawatt condensing turbine on top of the two turbines already in use. A condensing turbine takes steam in at a given pressure and reduces this pressure down to vacuum, therefore condensing all of the inlet steam and extracting this energy to generate electricity. In contrast, back pressure turbines bring the pressure of the inlet steam down to that which is needed for the rest of the process, extracting energy while also providing low pressure steam for the rest of the mill.
With this additional turbine, the mill power generation capacity and energy efficiency will both increase, and this will result in steam, water, and natural gas savings. The Energy Team has been working hard to look for steam saving opportunities across the mill, since the new turbine will not provide low pressure steam back to the process.
By undertaking these large investments in capital projects, Canfor has shown its commitment to sustainability as well as continually improving operations. It is very exciting to be a part of a company that always looks for ways to improve and stay competitive in the industry.
Just this week, I finally had my first visitor in Prince George! My good friend David Vassiliev, another engineering student from UBCO, was here for a work trip. David works as an Engineering Intern at Intertek and is here conducting calibrations for different companies, including Canfor’s own Prince George Sawmill. When I lived in Vancouver, David brought me on many amazing hikes, and he really takes advantage of the beautiful landscape we have here in BC. He is an avid photographer, and I would strongly suggest checking out his Instagram account (@davidvassiliev) for some amazing shots, I’m sure you’ll be inspired to go out and explore!
Trying to keep the hiking trend going and show him what Prince George has to offer, we decided to do a sunset hike to Teapot Mountain on his last full day in town. The sunset that day was right around 840 pm, so we left my house just after 7pm, leaving ample time to make the 40 minute drive to the trailhead and hike to the peak. I actually timed it this time, and even with stopping to take a few photos, it took us 23 minutes to reach the peak from the trailhead. It had been really cloudy the whole day, so we had mostly lost hope to catch an actual sunset, but after we reached the peak the sun shined its way through the cloud cover, dotting the sky with pink and red tones.
Two weeks ago, my office roommate and returning blog star Tristin Buchner and I decided, on a very caffeine fueled morning, that we would try to push our limits during the coming weekend and go for a trail run up to Berg Lake, at the top of Mount Robson. We planned out our trip, deciding to bike in 7 km to Kinney Lake, and then continue on foot another 14 km to Berg Lake. A 28 km jaunt with most of the trail’s 800 km elevation gain should be easy, right? On Thursday night, we tested out Tristin’s bike rack on the back of my Honda Civic, and figured out we did not have the top securing piece. Coming up with a quick and effective engineering solution, we pulled a bungee cord across the top of the bikes, tested how sturdy it was, and decided we were good to go. We woke up the next morning and left Prince George around 7 am, as the drive to Mount Robson is about three hours. The bungee cord held up for the most part, although we did have to stop a few times to pull the bikes back onto the rack after I took some corners a little too fast. The forecast showed blue skies and temperatures above 30°C, although when we arrived, it did not seem nearly as hot out as we had expected. The ride to Kinney Lake took about 45 minutes, and even if we finished our day here, I would have been more than happy. The lake is a beautiful turquoise colour, and surrounded by huge mountains, it makes for a beautiful sight.
We locked our bikes up just past Kinney Lake at the provided bike lock up area, and continued the trail towards the Whitehorn campground. At this point, Tristin and I made a joint decision that jogging 28 km when neither of us are serious runners was a bad idea, and could result in serious exhaustion or injury if we tried to push ourselves to the absolute limit. We made our new goal to hit Emperor Falls and return back to the trailhead. We stopped for lunch at Whitehorn, crossing the famous suspension bridge there, and then continued towards Emperor Falls. On the way up, the clouds actually cleared up, and we were able to see the peak of Mount Robson sticking out in the distance, which can be a very uncommon sight. When we arrived at Emperor Falls, Tristin commented how the falls could be a great source of hydroelectric energy. I guess even when we are in the mountains, we never stop thinking about these kinds of things. Tristin also was able to teach me some interesting facts about geomorphology, as he had taken a course about this as part of his studies for environmental engineering. He talked about cirques, the bowl shaped valleys left by glacier erosion, moraines, the accumulations of debris formed by contact with a glacier, and glacial striations, the grooves formed by rocks frozen in a glacier into the bedrock over which the glacier flows.
We returned back to the car, arriving just after 4 pm in the afternoon, and started our trek back to Prince George. After our morning trial run with the bungee cord bike rack, we were able to figure things out and avoid stopping on the way home. Consulting the trail map, it looks like we were only about 3 km from Berg Lake once we made it to Emperor Falls. I think that if you were to leave very early in the morning from Prince George, and keep a steady pace throughout the day, it would not be overly difficult to make it to Berg Lake and back in one day. Better yet, if you were to camp at Mount Robson, and hike up at the start of the day, you would have ample time to take breaks and do the entire hike before dark. One of the most interesting parts of this trail was the different types of flora that are encountered. The trail actually goes through three biogeoclimatic zones, so the scenery that can be seen changes throughout the hike.
I would strongly suggest that whether you are near or far from Mount Robson, you make a point of visiting this amazing park. For more information on the Berg Lake Trail, visit: http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/mt_robson/berg.html, and for further information about the Mount Robson Provincial Park as a whole, visit http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/mt_robson/.
Being able to go to Mount Robson in only three hours is another great thing about living in Prince George. There are so many beautiful outdoor areas in Northern BC, and having the opportunity to explore these places makes living here an even better experience. Many of the other Green Dream Bloggers have also had the opportunity to explore different parts of BC and Alberta around where they live, and I would strongly suggest checking out their stories to get a glimpse into what it is like to live these other forestry driven communities. This industry not only provides diverse and exciting job opportunities, but also provides so many chances to get out and experience the natural beauty our country has to offer.
In my next post, I will be talking about different energy saving projects at Canfor. Thanks for reading!