An animation of the Waste-to-Energy Facility’s complex processes that help sustainably manage waste in Metro Vancouver. Each year 250 thousand tonnes of the region’s garbage is converted into enough electricity to power 16 thousand homes. Here’s how it works.
[Narrator] This is Metro Vancouver’s Waste-to-Energy Facility, a cornerstone in our drive to resilient resource recovery. Each year 250 thousand tonnes of the region’s garbage is converted into enough electricity to power 16 thousand homes. We’re proud of our facility and the people who work here. The following video animation shows a representation of the complex processes at the facility to help manage waste in an environmentally sustainable fashion.
Once trucks arrive, they are weighed and checked in before heading to the refuse unloading area. The garbage is unloaded and visually inspected for any oversized items which are removed for separate disposal. At the Metro Vancouver facility, garbage is unloaded directly into the pit and is thoroughly mixed before being fed into one of the facility’s three feed chutes, where it travels to the furnace. The garbage storage area is maintained under negative air pressure to contain dust and odours. Once fed into the furnace, garbage burns in a self-sustaining process at more than 1,000 degrees Celsius.
As garbage is burned, the heat converts water in the steel tube lined walls into steam that rises through boiler tubes, where it is superheated. The steam turns a turbine driven generator to produce electricity. The electricity produced by the turbine generator is sold to BC Hydro for use in homes and businesses. Each tonne of garbage generates up to 700 kilowatt hours of electricity. The steam could also be used for a district energy system to distribute thermal energy from the facility to multiple buildings in a neighbourhood.
Steam from the process is condensed back into water and returned to the boiler tubes making it an efficient, closed loop system. After combustion, the volume of garbage is reduced by 90% leaving an inert ash and metals. Ferrous metals such as iron and steel are recovered using a rotating drum magnet. Non-ferrous metals, like aluminum and copper, are separated by an eddy current system. Collected metal is sold to be made into new products. Remaining ash is beneficially used or landfilled as nonhazardous waste.
State of the art air pollution control equipment ensures that emissions are well below regulatory limits and are fully protective of human health and the environment. Acid gases are neutralized using lime, and activated carbon is used to capture and remove heavy metals, including mercury. Metro Vancouver reduces particulate emissions through a baghouse, which employs thousands of fabric filter bags. All gas must pass through the bags before exiting through the stack.
Throughout this process, the control room operator is able to control the garbage feed rate, steam flow, and a number of other systems inside the facility, while closely monitoring emissions through a real time continuous emission monitoring system. Metro Vancouver posts this real time continuous air emissions data and links to all facility compliance reports submitted to our regulatory agency on our website . Metro Vancouver’s Waste-to-Energy Facility provides continued recovery of energy and metals from the region’s garbage which aligns with the goals of a resilient region.
Learn more about Metro Vancouver’s Waste-to-Energy Facility