Biofuel Creation Converting Municipal Waste

Discover how Enerkem, a 2012 ICIS Innovation Award winner, developed a process to turn non-recyclable municipal waste renewable chemicals and biofuels.

Biofuel Creation Converting Municipal Waste - Alpha Moment

Challenge

Making Garbage Green
The City of Edmonton in Canada wanted to find a better way to get rid of their non-recyclable municipal waste that would provide a more environmentally friendly alternative to landfills.

Meanwhile, Enerkem was trying to develop a process to turn waste into green chemicals and biofuels, and testing this new technology in a pilot facility.

Solution

Perfecting the Technique and Scaling It Up
Enerkem developed a four-step thermochemical system that takes a heterogeneous feedstock (such as municipal waste), shreds it, gasifies it to convert carbon molecules into a synthesis gas and then cleans and conditions the gas so that it can be converted via catalytic synthesis into renewable chemicals and biofuels.

During a 10-year development process that went from pilot to demonstration scale to commercial scale, Enerkem fine-tuned the process and convinced the City of Edmonton that its technology was the best solution to handle their waste. The Enerkem Alberta Biofuels facility can now process 100,000 tons of waste and produce 38M liters of biomethanol each year.


Impact

Disposing of a Problem
Enerkem’s proprietary technology has the ability to help cities like Edmonton deal with the ever-increasing problem of waste disposal while also using that waste to produce biofuels. It’s a big win-win.

Now Enerkem is expanding their efforts by adding a unit to the Alberta plant to produce ethanol. They are also constructing a facility in Quebec to deal with industrial and commercial waste and another in Mississippi to process municipal solid waste and wood waste.

With further interest in their technology coming from Europe and Asia, Enerkem will soon be transforming trash into green chemicals and fuel around the world.

 


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