Lewisporte, Newfoundland

Integrated Waste to Energy and Plastics to Liquid Fuels Facility

The town of Lewisporte, located on Burnt Bay in Newfoundland, is the site of a  Synergy World Power (SWP) project to establish Canada as a world leader in the environmentally sustainable conversion of biomass and plastic solid waste to renewable electrical energy and clean, ultra-low sulfur diesel, naphtha-based liquid fuels and fuel gas.
In Phase I, feedstock for the rotary kiln combined heat and power (CHP) plant and the hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) of plastics to produce ultra-low sulfur fuel oil, will come from the import of 750,000 tonnes per year of dry pre-sorted solid recovered fuel (SRF) shipped from Europe, as well approximately 50,000 tonnes of SRF per year from Canadian sources.
Thermal conversion of biomass to energy in Phase I will serve to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by more than 300,000 tonnes per year.

The project will be developed on an approximate 280-hectare site along Hwy 340 across Burnt Bay from the Lewisporte ferry dock and main commercial center.


Phase I will include construction of a new deep-water cargo port with berths for two S-Class side loading bulk carrier vessels and a separate fuel loading dock, as well as capacity for converting approximately 800 t/d of plastic to liquid fuels and gasification of 1,300 tonnes per day of biomass to generate approximately 40 MW (nameplate) of renewable power as well as steam and hot water for heating greenhouses.
A water storage and treatment system, administration building and visitors center, warehouse and maintenance shop, electrical substation, bulk fuel storage tanks, a fire station, and a repository for solid residue from the plant that will be exported to Europe as aggregate or used for construction, masonry products, or road de-icing will round out the new facility.
In Phase I, a public private partnership will be developed for the construction and operation of heated greenhouses for the growing of fresh produce. Heat and electrical power for the greenhouses will be provided by the TNEC.  Hot water from the TNEC combined heat and power plant will provide the heat for a public swimming pool to be built and operated  by the Town of Lewisporte


Phase II will see rotary kiln waste to energy capacity expand to 50 MW with an increase of the plastic to liquid fuels conversion capacity.
TNEC operations will serve to greatly reduce the amount of waste going to the landfill both in Canada and the EU, thus extending landfill service life and eventually helping to eliminate methane emitting landfills altogether.
The project will eventually create more than 200 competitively compensated positions including, unskilled, semi-skilled, skilled, and managerial positions. Renewable electrical power generated at the site will be made available to the grid.

Oblique view rendering of the Phase I TNEC project


Spliethoff S Class side loading vessels, having a capacity of less than 25,000 DWT, will serve as the primary transatlantic vessels for import of SRF from Europe and for export of bagged aggregate.

Questions about our Terra Nova Energy Centre

Q1. The main concern expressed has to do with the perceived import of garbage to Newfoundland.

A1-1. Solid recovered fuel, or SRF, is not garbage. Imported SRF is composed mainly of plastic and fiber (paper,  cardboard, wood and textile materials). It is a clean solid fuel with composition determined by EU legislation and by specifications agreed to between the EU supplier and TNEC. SRF contains no food waste, hazardous materials , or tires. It is pre-shredded, compressed and wrapped in plastic prior to shipment.
A 1-2. Local waste from Canada will be diverted mainly from the Norris Arm Landfill and will arrive in trucks, which will be unloaded indoors. This material will be processed in the same way as the SRF.
Relatively small amounts of solid residue from the baghouse and electrostatic precipitator will be  sent to Norris Arm landfill. This amount will be far less than the amount of waste  diverted from Norris Arm landfill to the TNEC.

Q2. There is concern regarding the potential for pollution of the local marine and terrestrial environments by fugitive trash or odors, or from process bottom ash.

A2. SRF does not contain food waste or other putrescible materials. For ease of handling and to prevent blowing trash SRF is compacted and wrapped in plastic. It is not shipped on the decks of ships but placed securely in the ship’s hold.
Upon arrival at the TNEC port, the bales are unloaded and stacked in a holding yard. In bad weather they are moved to a ready shed a day or so before use to remove ice and snow. The bales are opened inside the sorting facility building and the plastic wrapping is sent to the HTL plant for conversion to Canadian Clean Fuel Standard compliant liquid fuels.
Biomass components are sent to the combined heat and power plant and plastic is sent to the HTL plant.
Rotary kiln process bottom ash is an inert, sintered, carbon free, inorganic material that can be used for construction fill or landfill daily cover. TNEC plans to sell this material to customers in the UK and ship it to them in bulk bags using the same ships that bring the SRF from the EU.

Q 3-1. What about plastic pollution?

A3-1. Waste plastic in SRF from Canada and the EU will be re-purposed by converting it to Canadian Federal Clean Fuel Standard compliant liquid fuel using hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL). SRF will be shipped in plastic wrap only in the holds of ships (not on deck) and processed indoors. No fugitive plastic will be released to pollute the marine or terrestrial environment.

Q3-2. What about air pollution?

A.3-2. The only air emissions from the HTL process are from using the fuel gas made in the process to run generators and to fire the heaters for the process and the distillation tower. These emissions would be about the same as from a natural gas fired generator or gas fired greenhouse heaters as an examples.
The rotary kiln thermal treatment equipment is designed from the ground up to be inherently low in air emissions, especially NOx and particulate matter. All emissions of criteria pollutants are well below the Newfoundland air quality standard both for gravimetric emissions and ground level ambient air concentrations.
See graphic of ground level particulate concentrations from a 40 MW EPRD rotary kiln power plant (lower two rows) compared to Ireland EPA standards and ambient highway background.

Q4. What is HTL and how is plastic converted to diesel fuel?

A4. Hydrothermal Liquefaction (HTL) is simple process for making clean fuel oil and gasoline components from waste plastic. Plastic polymers are long chains of of thousands of repeating chemical units, mostly carbon and hydrogen. In HTL, these polymers are thermally cracked, or depolymerized, in a water filled reactor under high temperature and pressure (see the illustration below). The polymer is segmented into smaller molecules that make up ultralow sulfur diesel and other clean fuels.

Q5. Given that project design and operation will protect the environment, what are the benefits for Newfoundland?

A5-1. The project will involve up to one billon Canadian dollars of investment in process equipment and infrastructure, including a modern cargo port facility capable of handling vessels of up to 25,000 dead weight tonnes (DWT). The port will be to other commercial enterprises that may wish to use it for export of local commodities such as mineral or timber products, or for import of goods such building products or as heavy machinery.
A5-2. The project will create approximately 200 well paying jobs.
A5-3. TNEC will support a public private partnership to build and operate greenhouses, by providing low-cost thermal energy, renewable electrical power and assist in supplying irrigation water for the greenhouse development.
A 5-4. The rotary kiln combined heat and power plant will produce 230,000 MWh/year of electrical energy, along with 52,000 MWh of thermal energy for the greenhouse project.
A 5-5. The HTL plant is slated to produce 1.6 million barrels of Clean Fuel Standard compliant recovered diesel fuel per year, helping to reduce dependence on crude oil.


Please click on the questions below to reveal each answer…

Q1. What are the main differences between Incineration and Rotary Kiln Thermal Treatment?

A1. In the incineration process, waste is combusted in a single chamber. The large amount of air required for complete combustion (approximately six tons  of air for every ton of waste) leads to high mass transfer rates in the combustion chamber, with entrainment of particulate matter in the exhaust gas and poor control of flame temperature.

In rotary kiln thermal treatment, only about 30% of the air required for complete combustion is fed into the rotary kiln. The fuel in the kiln is further heated through partial combustion during which the material is volatilized to form a clean fuel gas (mainly N2, CO, CO2, H2, H2O, and CH4). This fuel gas (known as producer gas) is sent to a LoNOx gas burner for final, complete combustion. Using recycled flue gas mixed with outside air, pollutant pre-cursors are destroyed, and flame temperatures can be maintained below the temperatures at which thermal NOx forms. This method prevents pollutants from forming while increasing efficiency and reducing equipment size and cost.

EPR’s rotary kiln thermal treatment of solid recovered fuel (SRF), comprised mainly of dry biomass and plastic, is more reliable and cleaner than incineration, especially mass burn incineration, in which little or no sorting of the waste is done prior to the combustion process.

Why does the SWP Rotary Kiln Thermal Treatment Plant use a boiler and steam turbine for electric power generation instead of directly using the fuel gas to fire piston engine generators?

A2. The first steam turbine driven dynamo was demonstrated in the 1880s and these reliable and efficient prime movers now account for more than 80% of the electrical power generated in the United States. While steam turbine generators may be less thermally efficient than piston engines as prime movers for electrical generators, at the 50 MW generating capacity scale, steam turbines are safer, cleaner, and less expensive, as well as more rugged and reliable.

The fuel gas produced in the rotary kilns exits high temperature and would need to be cooled to near ambient before it can be used in a piston engine. As the fuel gas cools, tars condense out of the gas phase and these can cause operating problems in piston engines. Additionally, CO and NOx formation are very difficult to control in reciprocating engines. In the EPR LoNOx system, the hot fuel gas is cleanly combusted using a combination of outside air and recycled flue gas. This hot combustion product gas >900 Degrees C is cooled to an optimal temperature for boiler operation (about 760 Degrees C) by recycled flue gas and directed to heat recovery boilers that produce the steam to drive the turbine generators. This use of proven conventional steam power plant equipment results in a safe, reliable and environmentally responsible power plant.

Q3. How will the plant convert waste plastics to diesel and gasoline?

A3. Plastics are polymers made from fossil fuels such as petroleum, natural gas or coal. Polymers are long chains of tens of thousands of repeating chemical units, mostly carbon and hydrogen. When heated in the right conditions, some of the chemical bonds in the chain break in a process called cracking. From plastics such as polyethylene and polypropylene, for example, most of the resulting molecules are the same as those that are found in diesel and gasoline fuels. Smaller molecules that form such as methane, ethane, and propane remain in the gas phase and are used to fire generators that supply the plant with electricity. The solid phase by-product of the process is a carbon-rich char that is used as a fuel for the power plant rotary kilns.

Q4. What are the major components of the gasses released to the atmosphere from the waste to energy power plant stack?

A4. Stack gas from the WTE power plant will be comprised mainly of inert nitrogen (N2), carbon dioxide (CO2), water vapor (H2O), and oxygen (O2). The relative percentages of these components in the stack gas from the rotary kiln power plant is shown in Table 1.

Table 1. Exhaust Flue Gas Major Constituent Flows

Q5. What are the minor and trace components in the stack gas that are regulated by Newfoundland/Labrador (NL) Provincial environmental law and by the US EPA, and what are their concentrations relative to their respective regulatory limits?

A5. SWP designs, builds and operates its plants to comply with applicable emission standards in the jurisdiction in which the plant is being built as well as those of the US EPA.

Industrial air emission standards for the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador are set forth at: https://www.assembly.nl.ca/legislation/sr/regulations/rc040039.htm

Air emission standards commonly have three components. These include:

  1. Limits on the concentrations of regulated components emitted from the stack. These concentrations are standardized to a specific % of oxygen in the exhaust or flue gas. In NL, concentrations are normalized to 11% oxygen.
  2. Limits on the total amount, by mass, of regulated components emitted annually in units of tons per year. In NL a per ton per annum fee is charged for emission of regulated components over 50 tons p.a., for example.
  3. Finally, and most importantly, limits on the overall concentrations of regulated components in ground level ambient air. These latter limits ensure that the total emissions from all sources (e.g. ships, trucks, home heating fires, and the proposed plant) do not exceed the air quality limits. Were a proposed new plant to cause an exceedance of the ambient air quality limits, that plant may not be approved by the regulatory

NL regulations specify minimum ambient air quality. NL also regulates the concentrations of mercury and dioxins for the overall plant site including the rotary kilns and plastics conversion plants. SWP has not finalized emission estimates for these trace components for this site. However, other designed EPR plants operate at a small fraction of the emission rates required to meet these standards.

Q6. What will the calculated average and maximum ground level concentrations of particulates be to the closest residential dwelling to the stack?

A6. The nearest residence will be about 2.5 km from the onsite stacks. Based on an initial air dispersion analysis, the estimated average and maximum ground level particulate concentration, due to plant operations, at the nearest residence will be 0.5 and 3.0 μg/m3 respectively. This can be compared to the NL ambient air quality standards of 60 and 120 μg/m3 for average and maximum concentrations respectively.

Q7. What is the composition of the regulated gasses released to the atmosphere from the plastics to liquid fuels process, including heater exhaust, flare stacks and reciprocating engine exhaust?

A7. The primary pollutants of interest from the hydrothermal liquefaction portion of the plant will be NOx and CO. While detailed design of this portion of the plant is not complete, the air emissions will be very similar to the emissions from any reciprocating engine, The air pollution control systems will be designed to keep pollutant concentrations well below the NL Provincial industrial air emission guidelines.

Q8. What is the composition of the solid ash residue from the waste to energy power plant?

A8. The bottom ash from the rotary kilns system will be granular and consist of primarily silica, alumina and lime. The surface area reduction that occurs in the kilns reduces the leaching potential of the ash. This ash can be used in a variety of construction applications. There will also be a smaller fraction of fly ash from the air pollution control systems. These fly ash components will contain relatively higher concentrations of salts and will be retained in a lined landfill.

Q9. How much of this ash will be produced annually and how will it be stored or used?

A9. Projected solid residue production is based on the specifications for 750,000 tons p.a. of solid fuel to be used onsite. The fuel will contain around 12% inorganic material that will leave the system as ash. This means about 92,000 tons p.a. of ash will be produced when the plant is running at full capacity. Most of this material will be inert and suitable for beneficial use, in the Newfoundland or potentially in Europe.

Around 5% of the ash material will be leachable and thus unsuitable for beneficial use. This will be stored in a lined landfill.

Q10. Are there any beneficial use for the rotary kiln ash?

A10. Depending on fuel composition, the sintered rotary kiln ash should be usable as a sand like material for road traction. This material will be tested for leachability. Batches that meet the US EPA TCLP non-leachability criteria as well as any applicable Canadian Federal and Provincial standards for construction fill can be used for roadbed fill and other construction and architectural uses for sand or fine aggregate. EPR has contacted construction material companies in Europe that have expressed interest in importing this material.

This material can also be used for daily cover at the local landfill and transported as backhaul when waste is delivered from the local landfill to the Lewisporte plant.

Q11. Are there any solid waste residues from the plastics to liquid fuels (PTLF) process, and if so, how will they be managed?

A11. The two solid waste streams from the hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) plant will be plastic rejects such as PVC, the sediment from the plastics washing system, and a small amount of ash representing any inorganic material in the plastics. The sediment, ash and the rejected plastic, comprising 1-3% of the weight in the feedstock, will be landfilled.

Q12. Aside from the rotary kiln ash, what other solid materials from the process will be sent to the onsite inert landfill?

A12. Certain non-recyclable materials brought onsite will not be suitable for either waste to energy or hydrothermal processing, including ceramics, glass and certain plastics, such as PVC and Teflon. These materials will be sent to a landfill. SWP will enforce strict fuel specifications to minimize the quantity of these materials imported into Newfoundland.

Q13. How will the project ensure that the onsite landfill will not negatively impact the environment in the future?

A13. The site will not include a landfill but will have a storage pad for storing the inert bottom ash until it is removed for beneficial use. Local and export demand for this material may be seasonal. The storage area will accept no putrescible materials and will not support anaerobic production of methane (CH4) carbon dioxide (CO2) or other gases.

Q14. How will the supply of fresh water and management of wastewater and storm water runoff from the site be handled?

A14. The main water source for the project will be surface water from a large pond on the project property. The water management system will include a water treatment plant with associated storage tanks and distribution system. Influent water will be filtered and stored in a tank before treatment, serving as both a reservoir for all process and sanitation functions as well as the fire water reserve. The primary process uses of water are for make-up to the steam cycle and cooling water for both the power plant and the hydrothermal liquefaction facility. Water is also used for personnel and facility sanitation. Water for make-up to the steam cycle is treated in a conventional reverse osmosis purification.

Storm run-off drainage and plastics washdown drains will be collected in a separate lined settling pond that will be monitored for contaminants and treated as necessary to comply with provincial environmental control policies prior to any effluents being discharged to local waterways.

The wastewater treatment system is designed to process and reuse wastewater for multiple purposes including facility sanitation, leachate pipe flushing, site irrigation, and ash conditioning.

Q15. What is the composition of the Selected Recovered Fuel (SRF) that will be imported to be processed at the Lewsiporte Plastics to Liquid Fuels (PTLF) and biomass Waste to Energy (WTE) plants?

A15. SRF is sorted, non-recyclable plastic, paper, cardboard and wood. The materials will be baled and wrapped in plastic to prevent fugitive material from leaving the ship while underway or the site while in storage. This system has been successfully used in Europe for storing and shipping SRF for more than a decade.

Suppliers in Europe bale and wrap dry plastic and biomass (SRF) and load it onto bulk carrier ships. At the new dock on the south shore of Burnt Bay, bales will be unloaded and stacked outdoors. As needed, bales will be moved indoors to be further sorted prior to final processing to make liquid fuel or electrical energy.

Q16. How much energy will the plant use?

A16. The SWP plant will be a net generator of electrical energy to the grid. Fuel for the conventional steam power plant will come from mainly from the biomass portion of the SRF. There will also be some power generation from the Hydrothermal Liquefaction Plant. Excess renewable power from the plant will be available to the grid at a cost below that of current provincial power rates.

Q17. What are the assurances that the SWP plant will be built and operated in a safe and environmentally responsible manner over the long term?

A17. The Lewisporte plant will be designed, permitted and operated in strict accordance Newfoundland Provincial Air Emission and Ambient Air Quality Standards, as well as all other Canadian Federal and Provincial environmental regulations. Prior to construction, the project will go through a thorough permitting process, which will include an environmental impact statement and baseline environmental study performed by a highly qualified independent engineering company with offices in St. John’s.

Environmental monitoring of air emissions and ambient air quality, as well as monitoring of ground and surface water quality will be carried out as required by law. Material to be placed in the onsite landfill will be tested prior to placement and fuel products will also be analyzed to ensure quality before shipment.

Q18. Will there be any sources of thermal energy at the plant that could be economically used to heat nearby greenhouses for growing food crops?

A18. There are several potential sources of thermal energy that could be provided to nearby facilities. The largest potential source is a combined heat and power system fueled by the biomass rotary kilns. This would be delivered as hot water to nearby users. There has been local interest in using this heat source for greenhouse farming and a recreational facility. These facilities would not be owned or controlled by SWP.

Q19. What about electrical power to the greenhouses?

A19. There are several potential sources of thermal energy that could be provided to nearby facilities. The largest potential source is a combined heat and power system fueled by the biomass gasifier. This would be delivered as hot water to nearby users. There has been local interest in using this heat source for greenhouse farming and a recreational facility. These facilities would not be owned or controlled by SWP.