As my last post as a Green Dream Intern, I wanted to highlight some of my favourite moments during my summer in the Forestry Industry! This was my fifth co-op position during my chemical engineering undergrad, and my first summer working in the forestry industry and I can honestly say that this was my favourite placement. I thoroughly enjoyed having the opportunity to work with many talented and experienced individuals. Only through this work experience did I gain a newfound perspective on the forestry community and its integral role in leading sustainable practices in support of my community in Northwestern Ontario. Working in the Kraft Mill Utilities Department for Thunder Bay Pulp and Paper offered a unique outlook on how a workforce which thrives on the consumption of wood to produce its goods incorporates safe and sustainable practices for goal of allowing the forestry industry to thrive in Canada for years to come. Onto the highlights!
Going into the power boiler precipitators:
During my time at the mill, a crucial piece of equipment called the precipitator unfortunately was failing to work properly. This equipment works to remove the solids including ash and other particles from the off gasses which are produced as a result of burning natural gas and bark in the recovery boiler. This particular precipitator is an electrostatic precipitator and uses electrical currents to charge the solids which are carried by the off gases and causes them to drop. The solids which are precipitated out of the off gas collect at the bottom of the equipment and are disposed of. When the precipitator began running into issues it was decided that a visual inspection of the equipment was needed. To troubleshoot the issue of the precipitator, myself and my supervisor followed strict protocols including that for lockout, confined space entry, and PPE and entered the precipitators. This was a very cool experience as I got to see firsthand how truly large the equipment is in industrial settings. Unfortunately, I did not bring my phone into the equipment due to safety concerns but I have attached a picture below of my coworker and myself in all of our PPE!
Completing an analysis on a heat exchanger:
During my first month at the mill, I completed a full analysis looking at the benefits and risks of tying-in a warm water standpipe line into the current input for a heat exchanger. This tie-in would increase the input temperature of water to the heat exchanger and therefore allow the output temperature to be greater. This analysis revealed just how much energy in steam could be saved by using warmer water to begin with. Within the mill it is important to note the use and reuse of steam for heat for various purposes. This analysis allowed me to use various calculations which I’ve learned in my undergrad, including heat and mass transfer balances, and directly relate them to improving processes within the mill. The completion of this analysis was very rewarding! I was able to see the possible direct result a minor change can have on cost savings!
One of my favourite staples from the summer was the office tradition of having deli sandwiches on Fridays! Each week, a different person would volunteer to go to the deli and purchase sandwiches for the office. We would then sit and have lunch together allowing us to get to know each other on another level past being coworkers! These lunches always brought delicious sandwiches and often were filled with laughter. These lunches were a highlight and certainly allowed for a more wholesome connection with my workplace and peers.
In all, my experience in my placement has been undoubtedly supplemented by my role as a Green Dream Intern. This process has pushed my introspection on what my contribution to the forestry industry is and how I can continue to promote and maintain sustainable practices at work and in my day-to-day life.