Enerkem’s first garbage-to-biofuels plant in Edmonton achieves production milestones

Enerkem Inc.’s first full-scale waste-to-biofuels and chemicals commercial facility has met all operational milestones set by its senior lender Integrated Asset Management (IAM), the Montreal-based company said.

The first of its kind in the world, the plant turns non-recyclable municipal waste into methanol and ethanol that can be mixed with gasoline to party displace crude oil.

Its multifeedstock, multiproduct capability is what differentiates its technology platform, the company said. In less than five minutes, Enerkem’s process first converts the carbon into a 99.9 per cent pure synthesis gas, or syngas, which is then turned into biofuels and renewable chemicals using commercially available catalysts.

Methanol is a chemical building block for the production of secondary chemicals, such as olefins, acrylic acid, n-Propanol and n-Butanol, which can then be used to form thousands of everyday products.

The process requires relatively low temperatures and pressures, which reduces energy requirements and costs. The technology was scaled up from pilot to demonstration to commercial stage during a period of 10 years, the company said.

"The Enerkem Alberta Biofuels facility in Edmonton is fully operational in accordance with very rigorous production criteria," Vincent Chornet, president and chief executive officer of Enerkem, said in a statement.

"This third-party validation comes in at the right time as we are expanding our footprint in North America and Europe. Our disruptive solution sets a new standard in waste management, biofuels and chemicals, thus accelerating the transition toward a circular economy where waste becomes a resource to make everyday products."

Since the start of production, the Enerkem Alberta Biofuels facility has been meeting the highest quality standards set by the International Methanol Producers and Consumers Association (IMPCA) for the production and sale of methanol, the company added.

Enerkem's facilities are built as prefabricated systems based on the company's modular manufacturing infrastructure that can be deployed globally. The company obtained the European Union’s International Sustainability and Carbon Certification last year. Because it is able to both divert waste from landfills and create biofuels, European companies that use its ethanol are eligible for double carbon credits.

In addition to funding from private sources, the company’s Edmonton facility received funding from Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), Alberta Innovates and Alberta Energy.