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Biorefinery at Carrot River to convert wood waste into products

The biorefinery will start with biochar, then will later produce bio-oils and tars, wood vinegar and pyrolysis gas.
A new biorefinery near Carrot River will convert wood waste, left, into useful biochar, right and other products.

CARROT RIVER — A new biorefinery near Carrot River will process wood waste from the sawmill and other nearby forestry operations into useful products.

The new facility will be built by BioLesna Carbon Technologies, a joint venture of BC Biocarbon and Dunkley Lumber. Dunkley is the owner of the Edgewood Forest Products sawmill.

The federal government announced July 10 it was investing $10 million into the project.

“Initially, biochar will be the primary product produced," said Kris Hayman, vice-president of BioLesna. "Biochar is essentially very high-quality charcoal. Over time additional products like wood vinegar, bio-oils and tars, and excess synthetic gas will be refined and sold as finished products.”

Hayman explained that wood waste like bark and wood chunks will be processed to be a consistent size. Then, it will be heated in a limited oxygen environment in a process called pyrolysis. Biochar is the solid material created by this process. It is then cooled, sorted according to size, and shipped either in large format bags or loose in the back of a truck.

By producing higher value products from lumber manufacturing residuals that can enhance soils, replace fossil fuels, and sequester carbon instead of burning these residuals, the release of carbon dioxide into the environment is substantially reduced, Hayman said. 

"In fact, our process is carbon negative such that as long as the biochar is used as a soil amendment (and not burned), a carbon removal credit is generated which is another output product of the refinery."

The biorefinery will initally have 14 employees

“This will increase as additional product refinement is brought online,” Hayman said.

When asked why they chose to locate in Carrot River, Hayman said in addition to a fantastic workforce and welcoming home for our first operation, one of the partners in our company owns and operates a lumber production facility in Carrot River which provides an abundant supply of feedstock for the operation.