How a Montreal-based company is creating biofuel from non-recyclable waste
January 24, 2020
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Recycling has become a way of life for many, but even the waste-conscious society will still see about a quarter of its recycled material too contaminated to be reused.
But according to an article from the Canadian Energy Centre (CEC), a Montreal,Que.-based company’s vision to turn waste materials like non-recyclable plastics, carpet, shoes and soiled food containers into clean fuel and chemicals may forever alter that ratio.
Enerkem’s game-changing technology provides a sustainable waste management solution, which it says is complementary to recycling and composting, by manufacturing biofuels and renewable products from non-recyclable waste.
“We commercialized a technology that converts residual waste carbons — these are carbons that are typically non-recyclable or non-compostable — into fuels and chemicals,” Michel Chornet, executive vice-president of projects and operations for the company, told the CEC. “We have three platforms. We have synthesis gas, which is hydrogen, and carbon monoxide. We have a methanol platform as well as an ethanol platform.”
The company, which was started in 2000, also has offices in Edmonton, Alta., and in Sherbrooke, Que., and a research and development centre in Westbury, Que.
Last fall, Enerkem announced the closing of a $50-million equity investment from Suncor Energy, which first participated in the ownership of Enerkem in April 2019 as part of a $76.3 million equity financing alongside Enerkem’s existing shareholders.
Enerkem said Suncor also provides technical resources to support the operations of the Enerkem Alberta Biofuels (EAB) plant located in Edmonton, which is the first commercial-scale plant in the world to turn non-recyclable, non-compostable mixed municipal solid waste into cellulosic ethanol, a popular biofuel.
“In Edmonton we have about one-fourth of our workforce and over the years we’ve developed a lot of know-how by operating this plant and de-bottlenecking and ramping up production,” says Chornet. “In Edmonton, essentially we take residual materials from the City of Edmonton and we convert into biofuels.”
(Canadian Energy Centre)