Waste Management invests in Enerkem

By Anna Austin | February 09, 2010
Posted February 24, 2010

Canadian cellulosic ethanol producer Enerkem Inc. has attracted a new investor—North American waste and environmental services giant Waste Management Inc.

Enerkem announced the closing of a new round of financing—CDN $53.8 million (U.S. $50.9 million)—which comes from the company's existing institutional investors Rho Ventures, Braemar Energy Ventures and BDR Capital, as well as first-time investors Waste Management and Cycle Capital.

Waste Management stated that the investment will move the company toward meeting three of its sustainability goals: doubling its renewable energy production, tripling the amount of recyclables processed by 2020, and investing in emerging technologies for managing waste. Waste Management's most recent renewable energy investment was in organic waste-to-biogas technology company Harvest Power.

A portion of Enerkem's new funds, along with a $50 million U.S. DOE grant, will be used to initiate construction of a planned waste-to-biofuels plant in Pontotoc, Miss., which will serve as the company's U.S. ethanol industry debut. It will be Enerkem's second ethanol production facility, however, as began operations in January 2009 at its commercial-scale syngas-to-ethanol/methanol plant in Westbury, Quebec.

The $250 million project will recycle and convert approximately 60 percent, or 189,000 tons, of the municipal solid waste (MSW) at the Three Rivers Landfill, where the 20 MMgy facility will be built.

Significant progress is being made on the development of the Mississippi project, according to Marie-Helene Labrie, Enerkem's vice president of government affairs. "We have filed our state environmental permit, are working with DOE to finalize the paperwork to put the $50 million in funding in place," she told Biomass Magazine.

The company is also finalizing project agreements with partners, Labrie said. "The construction start date has not been decided upon yet as it is highly dependent on the completion, by DOE, of the review under the National Environmental Policy Act, a process on which we have limited control at this stage."

Dino Mili, Enerkem's vice president of business development, will be speaking at Biomass Magazine's International BIOMASS Conference & Expo in Minneapolis May 4-6. He will be participating in a panel discussion titled "One Person's Trash: Liquid Fuels from MSW."

Originally posted at Biomass Magazine