Enerkem Inc. smells opportunity in Edmonton garbage

Innovative ethanol facility takes shape at Capital waste management center

January 11, 2012

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100,000 tonnes of solid waste used that can’t be composted or recycled
Photo by Aaron Pederson/3Ten

Jim Schubert is wrapping up a tour of his pride and joy – Edmonton’s Waste-to-Biofuels Facility – when he gets asked the $180 million question: does he think the money being sunk into this project is worth it? “This is how we are looking at it,” Schubert, the City of Edmonton’s general supervisor of conversion technologies, tells the crowd. “Instead of putting waste in a landfill and storing it, we will not be putting it into a landfill and turning it into something useful.”

Indeed. What the facility will do is turn 100,000 tonnes of solid waste that can’t be composted or recycled into 36 million liters of ethanol and green chemicals a year. That contains the energy equivalent of about 23 million liters of gasoline.

While the project may sound too good to be true, it isn’t. Construction of the facility began in August of 2010 and it’s on schedule to start pumping out synthetic gas by 2012. Located at the Edmonton Waste Management Centre, the project is a public-private partnership with the City of Edmonton, the Government of Alberta and Enerkem Inc. – a waste-to-biofuel and advanced chemical company based in Montreal. Enerkem and the City of Edmonton have signed a 25-year contract with the city supplying Enerkem with 100,000 tonnes of feedstock per year to produce syngas. Enerkem is building the facility and will own and operate it.

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