Enerkem, a clean-technology company founded in 2000 and based in Quebec, Canada, is currently constructing its first industrial-scale waste-to-biofuel plant at Edmonton’s Waste Management Center at the Goldbar landfill site and seeking for engineers and technical staffs to hire. It is expected to be complete by late winter, with an opening set for mid-2013, while two more identical plants are to be built.
Using heat, Enerkem’s technology converts municipal solid waste into synthesis gas (SynGas), which is then converted into methanol and then into other products. A recently hired engineer, Dave Mason, explains the plant’s operation, “The city supplies us with what we call fluff — ground up residential waste which cannot be recycled or composted — and we basically take it from there.”
The new waste-to-biofuel plant being built in Edmonton is designed for ethanol production, converting 100,000 tonnes of solid wastes into 38 million liters of ethanol. This enables Edmonton to increase diversion of solid waste from landfill, from 60% to 90% of the solid wastes.
Enerkem’s vice-president of government affairs, Marie-Hélène Labrie, said, “With three refineries in the area, they all must use ethanol. And ethanol production in Canada must keep rising to meet demand.”
Enerkem has been operating a smaller facility in Quebec for several years and after perfecting its solid waste management and biofuel conversion technology, the firm is now ready to dramatically expand.
“We could in the future add to this size by handling other types of waste, such as construction, or commercial and institutional,” Labrie said.
Enerkem plans to build two identical 100,000-tonne facilities next year handling different types of solid wastes. The Quebec plant will be handling construction and wood wastes, while the Mississippi plant will be dealing with residential and wood wastes.
Labrie continues, “Enerkem is offering an option to landfilling, so waste management can offer that as an option to its customers. With many environmental restrictions and local opposition, landfills are no longer the only — or cheapest — option for waste.
“We are certainly competitive. We think this is the future.”