Groundbreaking held for waste-to-fuel facility

By Holly Jessen | August 27, 2010
Posted Aug. 31, 2010

A groundbreaking ceremony held Aug. 31 in Edmonton, Alberta, was the culmination of many words—painting a picture of possibilities, visions and ideas for a waste-to-biofuels project, said Vincent Chornet, president and CEO of Enerkem Inc. "This morning, we put our words in action," he said.

Enerkem is starting construction with its partners, the City of Edmonton and the Government of Alberta. The $80 million project will produce 10 MMgy of cellulosic ethanol from municipal solid waste (MSW). That's enough ethanol to fuel more than 400,000 vehicles yearly with E5, Chornet said. "This plant is the genesis of a world transformation where our non-recyclable garbage will power the vehicles we drive and reduce carbon emissions," he added.

The project is the result of many years of planning and will have a positive effect on the environment, said Ed Stelmach, premier of Alberta. It will help Canada reach long-term emission reduction targets. "This is truly an investment in our environment, our economy, and most importantly, our future," he said.

The plant, which is expected to be completed in 2011, will be built, owned and operated by a wholly-owned subsidiary of Enerkem, Enerkem Alberta Biofuels LP. Edmonton has signed a 25-year agreement to convert 100,000 metric tons of the city's MSW yearly, all of which cannot be recycled or composted. The project was awarded $23 million in funding from the Government of Alberta and the City of Edmonton.

The facility will reduce Alberta's CO2 emissions by 6 million metric tons over the next 25 years by replacing a portion of petroleum fuels and avoiding methane emissions that happen during waste decomposition in landfills, the company said. Besides biofuels production, the facility will also include an advanced research facility and a municipal waste processing and transfer facility. The research facility will focus on developing and demonstrating technologies to convert biomass into biofuels and biochemicals.

Enerkem, which is headquartered in Montreal, operates a pilot facility in Sherbrooke, Quebec, and a 1.3 MMgy wood-waste plant in Westbury, Quebec. The company also hopes to build in the U.S. and has proposed a 20 MMgy waste-to-ethanol plant in Pontotoc, Miss.