We are so fortunate to live in this part of the world, however we do need to think ahead.
Take the controversial coal situation.
Coal can be converted to diesel fuel to be used right here, or, better yet, use it to make DME (dimethyl ether), a super clean-burning fuel with no soot. This can replace diesel and furnace type fuels, burning even cleaner than natural gas.
Volvo is planning to have class eight trucks (highway tractors/dump trucks) powered by DME in the near future.
Along with hydrocarbon-based fuels like coal or natural gas, DME can also be make from anything organic that such logging slash, barnyard (farm) and human waste, pulp and sawmill waste, as well as municipal wood and brush from land and lot-clearing along with roadside and power line trimming and mowing.
An excellent example would be to use the leftover waste at the Union Bay coal hills, turning it into a Syngas or go the one step further going to actual DME, also to possibly utilize leftovers at the slag dumps out by Bevan, although a lot of that area already has a lot of trees growing and might be best left alone with the exception of the possibilities of occasional spontaneous combustion/underground fires that can and do occur.
Slash burning after logging operations has always been a total waste of usable energy along with being bad for the environment.
DME has been is use all over the world for years, including China, which makes it from coal. Alternatively from a fuel it can be used as a refrigerant, as a propellant in things such as hair sprays (eliminating aerosols), and for many lab and medical purposes.
As a low-emission, sulphur-free fuel, it meets the most stringent emission standards set in Europe and Japan. Its pressure and temperature requirements for transport make it as or more safe than propane or LNG.
The potentials for heating homes, commercial buildings, greenhouses, etc., are endless along with engines, medical and industrial uses.
The University of Northern B.C. has installed a plant to make the first stage (Syngas) out of mill wood waste from local suppliers and is successfully heating a good percentage of the campus with it, cutting their LNG (natural gas) requirements to purchase by vast amounts and thus setting the bar a stage higher for all of us.
Perhaps our growing and incredible local institutions could and should take a look at this.
Coal faces a tough fight here not just for digging it up, but for the cleaning process, logging for the slash burning and waste (except for the firewood cutters), and indeed even our human waste causes environmental issues.
Last, but definitely not least, we can use our own sources right here in the Valley to create a lot of new jobs that can be industry-oriented as well as environmentally sound.
Maybe then a lot of our young people who live right here in the best, resource-rich, and downright beautiful place on earth won’t have to leave B.C. just to find a decent job to feed their families.
Jim and Rob Brown,