Gasification pilot and innovative wood products at the University of British Columbia

Nexterra gasification CHP system to demo at UBC

The University of British Columbia (UBC) and biomass gasification company Nexterra Systems Corp have announced that UBC will install and demonstrate an on-site biomass-fuelled combined heat and power (CHP) solution developed by Nexterra and GE Power & Water’s gas engine division. The CHP system will be located at UBC’s Vancouver campus, where it will provide renewable heat and electricity for the campus and offer a platform for bioenergy research.

The new CHP system is the first of its kind in North America and combines Nexterra gasification and syngas conditioning technologies with a GE high-efficiency Jenbacher gas engine. Woody biomass will be gasified and converted into clean synthetic gas, or syngas, that will be directly fired in a gas engine. The CHP system will be capable of providing very high net efficiencies of up to 65% in cogeneration mode. The system will produce renewable heat and power, and will surpass Metro Vancouver’s air quality standards.

The solution will produce 2 MW of electricity that will offset UBC’s existing power consumption. This is the equivalent electricity required to power about 1,500 homes. The system will also generate enough steam to displace up to 12% of the natural gas that UBC uses for campus heating, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions by up to 4,500 tonnes/year. This is the equivalent of taking more than 1,100 cars off the road.

“This project demonstrates UBC’s leadership in sustainability and our concept of the campus as a living laboratory,” says UBC president professor Stephen Toope.

“We believe this new CHP solution represents a potential breakthrough for biomass power generation and look forward to working with UBC and Nexterra to successfully complete the demonstration,” says Prady Iyyanki, CEO, gas engines for GE Power & Water.

Cross-Laminate Timber with FPInnovations
UBC is also collaborating with FPInnovations to house the CHP system in a building designed and constructed using cross-laminate timber (CLT). CLT is a new solid wood building material that can be used as a low-carbon, renewable alternative to steel frame construction. This will be one of the first CLT buildings in North America and will demonstrate its market potential for the forest industry.

Funding support for the project is being provided by the Government of Canada’s Clean Energy Fund administered through Natural Resources Canada, Sustainable Development Technology Canada, the BC Bioenergy Network (BCBN), and FPInnovations.


Canadian Biomass Magazine, 2010-02-18.


BC Bioenergy Network
FPInnovations Inc.
Government of Canada
Natural Resources Canada
Nexterra Systems Corp
Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC)
University of British Columbia