Check out this video about the Chuntoh Ghuna facility in Prince George and the facility's application for an Air Discharge Permit.
Arbios is excited to be pursuing a commercial-scale facility to develop and demonstrate the Cat-HTR ™ technology. Taking a phased approach allows Arbios to integrate any learnings for lowering carbon footprint into future expansions. Verifying commercial viability also represents a significant milestone enabling Arbios to expand the Chuntoh Ghuna facility and develop further facilities where low-value biomass residues are available.
Arbios and the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation have been working in partnership on this project since its inception and have jointly reviewed potential environmental and cultural or traditional use impacts and their mitigations. In the spirit of the circular economy aspirations of Arbios Biotech, it is important for both Arbios Biotech and the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation to ensure that the project is aligned on environmental and cultural values and we jointly experience working on a project that will contribute to reducing global CO2e emissions. The Arbios Chuntoh Ghuna facility in Prince George was given its name by the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation on whose unceded territory the facility is located. We are proud of our facility name, which means “the forest lives”.
The site for the Arbios Chuntoh Ghuna facility is located on an existing industrial site at 2233 Prince George Pulpmill Rd, Prince George, adjacent Canfor Pulp’s Intercontinental Pulp Mill site. Only a small portion of the 8 hectare (20 acre) footprint would be required for the processing facility as the rest of the site would be used for feedstock staging and product storage. The facility will be operated independently from the Canfor Pulp facilities, although the location benefits from the proximity of existing utility infrastructure. Being an existing centre for BC’s forestry industry makes Prince George a natural choice for our commercial demonstration facility.
With the modest size of our first processing line in Prince George, the Chuntoh Ghuna facility expects to initially employ 15 people with skills ranging from Engineers, to process operators to administrative support. When expanded to a throughput of 100,000 BBLs/yr, and running full time, Arbios will employ approximately 50 people.
Biomass is transported to the facility by truck and stored under cover until it is loaded into a system of conveyors feeding equipment which size and clean the biomass, ready for drying. Dust will be collected from several points in the biomass handling system in a “baghouse filter”. A single pass belt dryer is then used to dry the shredded biomass, which is conveyed to a feed bin, ready for processing. Energy is saved in the dryers by re-using waste heat from the hydrothermal liquefaction process as much as possible.
The dried biomass is fed into a pumping system which mixes it with supercritical (high temperature) water into a paste which is then fed to the high-pressure Cat-HTR ™ reactor to produce bio-oil. The supercritical water is heated in natural gas-fueled supercritical water boilers. The process has a vapor combustor which has the function of both an emergency flare and a continuous thermal oxidizer to handle gases being produced by the tank farm, separation process and wastewater treatment process. Wastewater from the Cat-HTR ™ process is sent into a wastewater treatment plant and vapors generated in the anaerobic bioreactor are sent to the vapor combustor for destruction. For initial operations, the treated water will be sent to the Intercontinental Pulp Mill aeration basins.
The Cat-HTR ™ process liquid products are separated into bio-oil, non-condensable gases, and wastewater, and the bio-oil is then sent to the vacuum column, for further separation prior to storage. The vacuum column is heated using a natural gas fueled heater. The non-condensable gases that are not useable as products or for fueling gas-fired process units, are sent to the vapor combustor. Bio-oil and distillates (liquids) from the vacuum column are stored in tanks, and later shipped out by truck to refineries for further processing into renewable transportation fuels. During storage, bio-oils and distillates generate vapors that are not usable as products or for fueling gas-fired process units and are therefore collected and sent to the vapor combustor for destruction.
Arbios facilities are designed so that they can be positioned close to available feedstocks, which minimizes the carbon footprint for gathering the biomass required to produce the renewable bio-oil. The Arbios Chuntoh Ghuna facility Discharge Permit application is sized for a throughput of 50,000 ODT (Oven-Dried Tonnes), producing 100,000 barrels of bio-oil per year. While the site has room for further expansion, this expansion would be contemplated much further in the future, with its own feasibility, planning and permitting as appropriate.
Arbios is taking a phased approach to the construction of the Chuntoh Ghuna facility. Arbios will initially build a processing line capable of producing approximately 50,000 barrels (BBLs) of bio-oil per year, which can then be expanded to produce approximately 100,000 BBLs of bio-oil per year. Some of the equipment installed in the first processing line, will already have the capacity for a 100,000 BBLs/yr facility.
Taking a phased approach allows Arbios to demonstrate the technology in a full operational capacity, demonstrate the economics of the Arbios process model, and integrate any learnings and improvements into the expansion equipment.
The Chuntoh Ghuna facility requires a new authorization to discharge waste under the Environmental Management Act (British Columbia). The Permit application will be reviewed by the Ministry of Environment & Climate Change Strategy, Environmental Protection Division (the Ministry). Click HERE for more information.
Some notable measures that have been taken to minimize particulate matter and NOx emissions at the Chuntoh Ghuna facility include:
The Best Achievable Technology report was conducted by a Qualified Professional third party with expertise in this area.
As part of the permit application process, Arbios has asked a Qualified Professional independent third party, Ausenco, to model the air emissions from the Chuntoh Ghuna facility to predict facility impacts on the existing levels of particulate matter (TSP, PM10 and PM2.5), NO2 and SO2in the Prince George Airshed.
The modelling approach taken by Ausenco was detailed in a modelling plan which was submitted to the Ministry for approval before modelling commenced. The air dispersion model uses a baseline record for air quality in the area for a specified period, and then models the addition of the Chuntoh Ghuna facility in operation. In order to establish a representative baseline, the model used air quality data from 2016 for PM10 and PM2.5, and data from 2018, 2019, and 2020 for NO2 and SO2. The 2018 to 2020 period represents the most recent 3-year period for which quality assured monitoring data are available from the Ministry. Due to poor data capture for PM10 and PM2.5 in 2019 and 2020, and extensive wildfire impacts in 2018, the 2016 year was selected to provide best available data for PM10 and PM2.5.
Prince George is considered as having a sensitive airshed primarily due to a history of PM2.5 exceeding the BC Ambient Air Quality Objectives. A cautious approach is therefore taken when modelling air quality impacts, and in the case of the Chuntoh Ghuna facility, the inputs to the model use emissions data that are consistently on the higher end.
Although the model design is largely determined by Provincial guidelines and strictly follows the Approved Modelling Plan, there are areas where inputs to the model must be selected. In every case, emission inputs are chosen that err on the high side of expected actual emissions. These include:
The Chuntoh Ghuna facility dispersion model is based upon a community model that was, in turn, based upon an inventory of all sources in the airshed. Of that inventory, the Chuntoh Ghuna facility Permit limits would account for 2% of all PM2.5 emissions and 1.8% of all NO2 emissions. Since that emissions inventory was assembled, three key changes in industrial sources have or will occur before the Chuntoh Ghuna facility is commissioned. They are the:
These three changes, even when taking in to account new sources at the Chuntoh Ghuna facility, represent significant reductions in PM2.5 and NO2 in the Prince George airshed. The PM2.5 reductions are 10 times the Arbios additions and NO2 reductions are 2.6 times more than the Arbios additions. These reductions are not accounted for in the dispersion modelling for this facility.
and post-graduate student Brayden Nilson, B.Sc. The model was based upon the same Micro Emissions Inventory that was used by Ausenco.
The results of this model provided context for the Chutoh Ghuna implementation team and must not be considered when reviewing the Air Discharge Permit Application. Given the early stages of design, and subsequent changes in model inputs, the results must be viewed with caution.
Due to the priority for health impacts, PM2.5 was the main focus of this work. Due to the modelling taking place early in the design stages of the facility, the total Arbios PM2.5 emissions modeled by this work were more than 2 times higher than emissions modeled by Ausenco. However, comments related to changes in the emissions inventory and the precautionary approach of modelling Permit limits are consistent with the Ausenco report.
The model report concluded:
“The proposed Arbios site was found to have a relatively minor impact on the modelled annual average concentrations of PM2.5 in Prince George” .
This report is available on request.
This table shows the maximum discharges associated with the normal operation of authorized point sources at the Chuntoh Ghuna facility. The maximum discharge rates were determined by determined based on equipment manufacturer specifications or by taking monitored data from comparable installations, and a margin of safety was added to represent the upper end of each discharge source during normal operations. These requested permit limits were used in the model on an operational basis of 24 hours per day, 365 days a year.
The above graphs show a time series of background and Facility PM10and PM2.5 and NO2 concentrations at the Plaza 400 monitoring station.
While the modelling shows that when combined with the high background concentrations in the Prince George region maximum cumulative concentrations of PM and NO2 may exceed relevant AAQOs, with adherence to an environmental management plan, the facility is not expected to adversely affect air quality in Prince George.
For PM (all size fractions), maximum potential discharges from the Chuntoh Ghuna facility may result in exceedances of the AAQO only within 200 m of the Facility. This area of potential exceedance encompasses existing industrial facilities where public exposure would be minimal and where AAQOs typically do not apply.
For NO2, exceedances of the 1-hour AAQO are modelled in an area within 3 km of the Facility. There are few public receptors within this area of potential exceedance and excursions above the numerical value of the objective are expected to be very infrequent. The calculation for the conversion of NO from facility emissions to NO2 in the atmosphere is expected to result in substantially over-estimated NO2 concentrations in the model results. This expectation is supported by past model evaluations published by the US EPA (2013).
Maximum modelled concentrations for SO2 are expected to remain well below the AAQOs.
Modelled impacts are associated with the Chuntoh Ghuna facility emission rates at their maximum permitted levels throughout the year. In reality, the average emission rates during facility operations are expected to be considerably lower. Modelled impacts associated with these high-end estimates are then added to background levels that represent the 4th to 8th worst day of the year (depending on the type of emission). The coincidence of highest facility impacts with these background contaminant levels in the airshed is unlikely. This, combined with a number of other precautionary measures in the assessment, including expected lower emissions from biomass handling and reductions in industrial emissions in the Prince George region, result in a portrait of maximum potential impacts from facility operations
Please contact email@example.com if you experience difficulty downloading any of these files.
.....and on the project in general.
For a faster response, you can contact us at any time at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Alternatively you can contact us by writing to:
PO Box 21130, Prince George RPO Spruceland, BC V2M 7A5
Please note: as a component of the Permit application process, all communications are to be recorded and included in a Consultation Report which will be submitted to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.
The CALMET model was run for a 3-year period from January 1, 2013, to December 31, 2015. This was the most recent 3-year period during which the most representative meteorological data were available. See Section 6 of the AQTR for more information on how these years were selected.
The air dispersion model is a very detailed predictor of weather and atmospheric conditions based on years of data that best represent typical conditions in Prince George. It is important to note that these modelled impacts are associated with the Facility emission rates at their maximum permitted levels throughout the year. In reality, the average emission rates during Facility operation are expected to be considerably lower. Modelled impacts associated with these high-end estimates are then added to background levels that represent the 4th to 8th worst day of the year (depending on the type of emission). The chance of the highest Facility impacts coinciding with these background contaminant levels in the airshed is unlikely.
The 98th percentile is used to determine the level at which 98% of the data is equal to or less than that data point. For example, In the terms of a year’s data used in the air quality model, when examining a 24-hour period, this data point represents the 8th “worst” day in that year.
We carefully looked at each part of the process and the equipment specified for the facility and based on the vendors’ specifications were able to determine what the maximum possible emissions might be in normal operations. Many sections of the process are common to other industries and we care able to make comparisons when the equipment is used in a similar way.
The following can be found on the HealthLinkBC website:
Particulate matter (PM) refers to small solid or liquid particles floating in the air. These particles can be made up of different substances like carbon, sulphur, nitrogen and metal compounds.
More information on particulate matter can be found here:
From the HealthLinkBC website Particulate Matter and Outdoor Air Pollution | HealthLink BC :
Particulate matter can be produced from burning materials, road dust, construction and agriculture. One of the largest sources of particulate matter in B.C. is residential wood burning. Wood smoke may come from residential sources such as a fireplace or wood stove in a home, all open burning of vegetative matter or backyard burning. Other sources of particulate matter include forest fires, certain industries, furnaces, tobacco smoke and all mobile vehicles, especially those with diesel engines.
The process and liquids handling areas are being built with fail-safe systems and as a last line of mitigation, with catchment areas as appropriate. Arbios will have a comprehensive spill prevention and management system as part of its Environmental Management Program.
Our facility is too small to trigger these processes, but we are still required to have permits that are relevant to the facility’s equipment and operations. Arbios and the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation have conducted a voluntary joint environmental due diligence process which examined areas of interest to the Nation that included environmental protection as well as Indigenous interests and traditional use. The results of this process are being used to inform our procedures and mitigations during construction and operations.
For the first processing line, we expect 4 trucks a day to call at the facility. In addition, there will of course be some additional deliveries to the facility for the provision of goods and services. We expect this volume to be a minor addition to the road traffic in Prince George.
The groundbreaking Cat-HTR ™ process uses supercritical water (water at very high temperatures and pressures) to turn biomass residues into a high-quality renewable bio-oil. Raising water to these temperatures requires a very specific type of boiler, and natural gas provides the most efficient direct form of heat for boilers of the size needed for the Chuntoh Ghuna facility. When we start operating the facility, our first objective will be to demonstrate the technology at a commercial scale. Once up and running, we will be focusing on reducing the carbon footprint of our process, and the carbon intensity of our bio-oil.
No, the facility uses water at high temperatures and pressures to convert biomass into bio-oil in about 20 minutes - something that nature takes millions of years to do.
Arbios has taken existing noise measurements at several locations to determine a baseline for existing noise levels in the industrial area in which the Chutoh Ghuna facility will be located. Based on equipment manufacturers’ specifications, the noise levels of the facility are not expected to make any difference to the noise levels in the surrounding area.
Proximity to forestry residues makes Prince George a natural choice for Arbios Biotech’s commercial demonstration facility. Chuntoh Ghuna’s site also benefits from being able to utilize existing utility infrastructure.
The facility is being built to all applicable safety standards and regulations. Safety will be governed on site by a comprehensive safety management system and an asset management program which will ensure that all appropriate inspections and preventative maintenance actions are conducted.
The small and modular configuration of Arbios facilities means that they can be located close to the feedstocks, which reduces the carbon intensity for transportation of the biomass. Prince George is a natural location for the supply of woody biomass, and the Chuntoh Ghuna facility will be able to process bark, shavings and sawdust – typical sawmill residues. Our biomass volumes are quite small in comparison to other industry in the region, and we have already secured our initial supplies for when we start operating the facility.
Our focus is using biomass residues such as by-products of the forestry and lumber industries, and turning them into renewable bio-oils with a low carbon footprint, supporting the world's transition to a low carbon economy.
We are in the process of discussing the off-take of our renewable bio-oil with potential refineries.
No, Arbios will not be processing plastics.
When we start operating the facility, our first objective will be to demonstrate the technology at a commercial scale. Once up and running, we will be focusing on reducing the carbon footprint of our process, and the carbon intensity of the bio-oil. The Chuntoh Ghuna facility in Prince George is already designed to recycle heat from the bio-oil conversion process and utilize it in the biomass dryer, and we plan to look at other areas of the process for energy re-use and reduction as soon as practicable. Once optimized, we expect Arbios bio-oil to be up to 80% less carbon intensive than fossil fuels with similar properties.
While molecularly similar to the fossil fuels it replaces, Arbios’ renewable bio-oil will have a much lower carbon footprint than equivalent fossil fuels. This is achieved through less carbon-intensive production methods and by utilizing residues from renewable feedstocks that continue to capture and store carbon.
We have been working in partnership with the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation since the inception of the project and are honoured to have the facility sited in the unceded territory of the Lheidli T’enneh. We are proud of the facility name Chuntoh Ghuna which was given by the Lheidli T’enneh Elders and means “the forest lives”. We encourage everyone to learn more about the Lheidli T’enneh by visiting the Nation’s website.
The Chuntoh Ghuna facility will create between 15 and 50 positions in Prince George, ranging from Process Operators to Plant Manager. We are using mostly local companies to build the facility, and there will be ongoing contracts to support the facility in operation. Arbios has chosen Prince George as the best location to demonstrate the pioneering Cat-HTR ™ technology; the region is a perfect place to showcase the possibilities for a sustainable circular carbon economy.
While some changes to address the climate crisis can be readily made (e.g. lighting, electric vehicles, etc.) others like heavy transportation (air transport, shipping, trucking, etc.) will take much longer to replace. This project, in Prince George, will produce a renewable fuel with a low carbon footprint that can be immediately used by larger transportation and form a significant step toward addressing climate change.
Arbios Biotech Limited Partnership is a joint venture between industry leaders, Licella & Canfor, with a vision to provide low-carbon, circular economy solutions around the world. Arbios will create high-value, renewable biofuels from locally sourced biomass, like forestry residues, providing a sustainable alternative to fossil-based fuels. Arbios operates as an independent company.
Arbios has a facility in New South Wales, Australia, which is operated by Licella. At the Somersby facility, Licella’s first-generation Cat-HTR™ Small Pilot Plant was commissioned in 2007. Since Licella was founded, the Cat-HTR™ platform has gone through three reactor scale-ups to its current commercial-ready module. The Chuntoh Ghuna facility in Prince George will demonstrate the technology at a full commercial scale.