Interview with Kim Jones – The Surrey Biofuel Facility

September 19, 2019

As part of a video project for the University of British Columbia (UBC), Kim Jones, Project Manager for Convertus discusses how the Surrey Biofuel Facility turns organic waste into renewable energy, ensuring a sustainable solution for Surrey. The video has been professionally filmed and edited by UBC Studios.

TRANSCRIPT of Kimberly Jones Interview

I am Kimberly Jones, the Design-Build Project Manager for Renewi, so my job at the Surrey Biofuel Facility was to manage the design-build portion of the work. The Surrey Biofuel Facility is an  organic waste processing facility built, primarily for the City of Surrey.
We take 100% of the city’s organic waste that is collected curb side from its residents, and process it into renewable natural gas (RNG) and compost. Through our Odour Abatement System, we also produce ammonia sulphate, which can be used for fertilizer.

The Biofuel Facility started with the city of Surrey, back in 2009; it had a vision to fuel its waste collection vehicles with RNG produced from its own resident’s organic waste. The Biofuel Facility helps reduce the city’s carbon footprint by 40,000 tonnes/year. It also helps the city meet it’s 70% diversion of organics from landfill.

RNG is renewable natural gas, so its gas produced through a biological process of decomposing waste, basically. Here at the Biofuel Facility, we look to optimize that process, so we control it and ensure the gas, so that we can upgrade it, and we do it through anaerobic digestion.

Methane is released in your garden when your banana peel sits there for a year. We just speed it up through heat and technology, and through the recirculation of the leachate, which will speed it up. We control the bugs here, and we give them exactly what they need to produce the gas. We make sure that they’re the right temperature. We make sure that they have no oxygen at all, whereas in your garden, they’d be exposed to oxygen, so we just do it in a very controlled way.

There are other organic waste facilities in Europe that produce biogas and RNG.
This is the first in North America that does this process. We consider the Biofuel Facility a closed-loop system, because the organics that are collected are used to make renewable natural gas, which fuels the city’s collection vehicles, and then we also produce compost,  which in turn grow more organics.

The biggest challenge facing any waste facility, particularly organics, is odour.  Everyone is always really concerned about odour. We put about 30% of our entire budget into odour abatement. We have four bio-filters, and an ammonia scrubber, and a 70-meter stack. We’re very close to residential Langley. We are in an industrial area, but we’re very close to residential areas and so far we’ve had no complaints at all.

The facility was designed to meet the City of Surrey’s needs for 25 years, so our capacity is much more than what the city needs right now. In total, we can process 115,000 tonnes/year. Right now, the city delivers more than half of that, but we do have capacity to process other municipalities’ waste, or industrial, commercial, and institutional waste streams, as well. Because this is a City of Surrey facility, they have first rights for the next 25 years. Eventually, we will be full with only the city’s waste.

We hope to pick up additional ICI contracts, primarily because ICI is generally food waste, and there is no leaf and yard waste, or very little leaf and yard waste. The food waste produces a lot more biogas than when it’s mixed with leaf and yard waste. So, eventually we would like to get more ICI contracts, or other municipalities. I think once everyone sees how successful this can be, and the closed-loop system, I don’t see how they wouldn’t adopt something like this.

Learn more about our
technologies & references