Enerkem Breaks Ground on Edmonton Waste-to-Biofuels Plant

Date: October 6, 2011

Source: Canadian Plastics Industry Association

Enerkem (Montreal, QC) has broken ground on its full-scale waste-to-biofuels facility in Edmonton, AB. Enerkem employs a gasifier to convert mixed wastes and residues into a pure synthesis gas (or syngas) that can then be converted into chemicals or biofuels using chemical catalysts. Last month the company signed an offtake agreement with Methanex Corp. which has agreed to buy methanol produced by the Edmonton plant. The Edmonton facility is one of two plants that will produce 10 million gallons of biofuel per year; a second similar facility is being developed in Pontotoc, MS where the company expects to break ground later this year. Enerkem operates a 1.3 million gallon-per-year demonstration facility in Westbury, QC. In June the company closed a C$59 million round of financing in which Valero Energy Corp. joined existing investors Waste Management, Rho Ventures, Braemar Energy Ventures and Cycle Capital which also participated.

Valero Energy currently has investments in 10 ethanol plants throughout the Midwest. "With Valero joining Waste Management as a strategic investor, Enerkem becomes one of the very few renewable products companies that is aligned with industry leaders from both upstream and downstream parts of the business," said Vincent Chornet, president and chief executive officer of Enerkem.

See also: "Enerkem Finds Buyer of Methanol from its Waste-to-Fuels Plant," (www.wasteinfo.com/news/wbj20110920G.htm).

See also: "Enerkem Raises $59 Million in Latest Financing Round; Valero Joins in," (www.wasteinfo.com/news/wbj20110601D.htm).

October 6, 2011

Groundbreaking Waste-to-Biofuels Facility-Turning Garbage into Fuels

Imagine a world where our garbage actually powers the vehicles we drive. An untapped source of energy. Energy that would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80%.

This is the world that's starting to take shape in Edmonton Alberta at Edmonton's Waste-to-Biofuels Facility and Advanced Energy Research Facility. Unique technology, developed by Enerkem, can turn residual waste (remaining after recycling and composting) into advanced biofuels, paving the way for a new generation of clean fuels and energy.

Instead of occupying space in landfills, our waste is now becoming a clean power source for our cars, trucks and buses. Diverting waste also reduces methane gas from landfills - a far more potent greenhouse gas than CO2.

At the Edmonton Waste Management Centre on Oct. 5, 2011, 200 industry, government, and media were able to see the innovative technology that is producing alternative fuels and chemical feedstocks by converting non-recycled plastics and biomass.

The educational tour was sponsored by the Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA), the American Chemistry Council and Alberta Plastics Recycling Association in Association with the Annual Conference of the Recycling Council of Alberta and with the support of the City of Edmonton and the Edmonton Centre of Excellence.

"This event highlights the fact that there are now technologies in use in North America that allow us to treat waste as a resource" says CPIA President Greg Wilkinson.

According to Wilkinson, "We hope to demonstrate that proactively managing residual materials within the context of an integrated system means we can find new uses for non-recycled plastics while on the road to steadily increasing landfill diversion. These technologies may include the conversion of solid waste to biofuels and chemicals and/or re-capturing the energy from waste for electricity and heating."

Edmonton is unique in North America as it hosts one of the few fully integrated waste management facilities on the continent. The operation is expected to help the city increase its residential landfill waste diversion rate from 60% to 90% - a tremendous municipal success story.

The educational tour demonstrated leading-edge waste management technologies - from recycling to solid waste recovery - and showed how they can co-exist in an environmentally and economically sustainable way.

According to CPIA Vice President Cathy Cirko, "We hope to repudiate the old saying, "Garbage in, garbage out," so that in the future we are working within a plastics recycling paradigm focused on the principle of "Garbage in, resource out."

The Canadian Plastics Industry Association showcases initiatives such as the Edmonton Waste-to-Biofuels and Advanced Energy Research facility, designed to divert residual material including non-recyclable plastics from landfill. At the end of their life plastics can have valuable future roles, as an energy source or to be reprocessed into other products. Plastics are too valuable to waste and initiatives and partnerships such as this one are a prime example of what can and is being done to divert plastics and other materials from landfill.

Information about Waste-To-Biofuels Process:

The Waste-to-Biofuels process:

  • The residue materials are shredded and fed into a gasifier.

  • The gasification process converts carbon-rich residues into a syngas.

  • The syngas is cleaned and converted into high-value, market-ready fuels and chemicals.

Products such as methanol can be sold directly or used as intermediate products in the creation of other products such as ethanol, synthetic diesel, dimethyl ether, and synthetic gasoline.

The potential sale of residual heat and syngas from the new biofuels facility (as well as the sale of concentrated carbon dioxide, fly ash, char, and carbon credits) are being actively pursued, including an approved unique community project that will heat a Strathcona County neighbourhood using residual heat and synthetic gas (syngas).

Economic Impacts of Waste-to-Biofuels:

  • Energy efficiencies: At capacity, the new biofuels plant will gasify 100,000 tonnes of solid waste to produce 36 million litres of ethanol a year. This amount contains the energy equivalent of around 23 million litres of gasoline - enough to power about 18,000 average cars (8.5 litres/100 km) for 15,000 km/year.

  • Employment impact: The current Edmonton Waste Management Centre is a production plant employing about 300 people. The new biofuels facility will create 25 additional highly skilled green jobs.

Environmental Impacts of Waste-to-Biofuels:

  • Recycling Levels: In both the U.S. and European Union, studies have demonstrated a positive correlation between energy recovery in the region and higher than national recycling rates. The new biofuels facility will increase the City of Edmonton's current recycling rate by one third.

  • Materials sorting and recovery: The current Municipal Waste Treatment Facilities process over 250,000 tonnes of waste per year. The new biofuels facility will take up to 100,000 tonnes of residuals from the recycling and composting processes and turn it into 36 million litres of ethanol and green chemicals per year. When completed, the Municipal Waste Treatment Facilities will divert over 90 per cent of the municipal solid waste from landfill.

  • Landfill diversion: The facility will result in a net reduction in landfill additions of approximately 71,000 tonnes - the equivalent of filling a football stadium to a depth of 25 metres or about 90 feet every year. Input feed material will be comprised of about 23,000 tonnes of plastics from the municipal solid waste stream and another 10,000 tonnes of plastic that will be selected from the industrial, commercial and institutional, as well as construction and demolitions streams.

  • Captured energy: The new biofuels facility will produce enough ethanol to power 18,000 cars driving 15,000 kilometres a year.

  • Greenhouse gas reductions: The new biofuels facility will reduce the City's carbon footprint by 6,000,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent over the 25 year life of the plant.

  • Air emissions: Project implementation required an environmental permit from the Province of Alberta. Analyses of exit gases from the pilot plant during runs using the feedstock materials from the City of Edmonton demonstrated that, in normal operation, all of the common metals, including those popularly called "heavy" metals, were below the limits of detection. Similarly, chlorine, fluorine, sulphur, dioxins and particulates were below detection limits. Small amounts of oxides of nitrogen and carbon monoxide are dispersed by a stack and were shown to be well within the Alberta Ambient Air Quality Objectives. The result is a very environmentally clean process that operates well within legislated guidelines.

The Canadian Plastics Industry Association is the national voice of Canada's plastics industry, representing the interests of processors, material suppliers, equipment manufacturers and brand owners across the country.

For more information, contact:
Canadian Plastics Industry Association
Darlene Gray
Marketing Communications Specialist
905.678.7748 ext. 239

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