Enerkem opens commercial biorefinery in Alberta

Enerkem opens commercial biorefinery in Alberta

Edmonton facility is among the first to produce biofuels and chemicals from municipal solid waste.

June 4, 2014
Waste Today Staff
Municipal / IC&I

Enerkem officially inaugurated its first full-scale municipal waste-to-biofuels and chemicals facility in Edmonton, Alberta, June 4, 2014. This announcement was shared by Enerkem CEO Vincent Chornet, Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson and Minister of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development Robin Campbell, who is also Government House Leader representing Alberta.

"Our breakthrough technology uses garbage instead of fossil sources for the production of chemicals and liquid transportation fuels," said Chornet. "We are proud of the inauguration of our first full-scale biorefinery facility as it is the culmination of more than 10 years of disciplined efforts to scale up our technology from pilot and demonstration to commercial scale. The completion of this game-changing facility is by far one of the most significant developments the waste and biorefinery sectors have seen yet. We are thrilled that it is becoming a model for many communities and industries around the world."

This facility, operated by Enerkem Alberta Biofuels, is among the world's first commercial facilities to be built for the production of renewable chemicals and advanced biofuels. During its construction, more than 600 direct and indirect jobs were created for the modular manufacturing of the facility's systems and their on-site assembly.

"The city of Edmonton is a world leader in sustainable waste management and the opening of the waste-to-biofuels and chemicals facility demonstrates our commitment to finding innovative solutions to harness the value in waste, said Iveson. "This type of leading edge innovation demands a team approach and we're proud of our partnership with Enerkem and Alberta Innovates - Energy and Environment Solutions (AI - EES)."

"This game-changing facility provides clear environmental benefits as it converts waste into value-added products, said Campbell. "This is another great example of Alberta innovation at work, helping to diversify our economy through new, leading-edge technology."

This industry breakthrough is a collaboration between Enerkem, the city of Edmonton and AI-EES. The facility will have a production capacity of up to 38 million liters per year, is designed to help the city of Edmonton increase its residential waste diversion rate to 90 percent and is expected to generate net economic spending in the local area of nearly CA$65 million annually.

The startup of the biorefinery follows a rigorous commissioning plan which is nearing completion. Biomethanol production will begin progressively during the startup. A module converting the biomethanol into advanced ethanol will be added by the end of 2015.

Enerkem makes biofuels and renewable chemicals from waste. With its proprietary technology, Enerkem converts nonrecyclable municipal solid waste into methanol, ethanol and other widely used chemical intermediates. Enerkem currently operates a demonstration plant and a pilot facility in Quebec. The company is developing additional biorefineries in North America and globally based on its modular manufacturing approach. Enerkem's technology and facilities help diversify the energy mix and make greener everyday products while offering a sustainable alternative to landfilling and incineration, the company says. 

Edmonton's focus on recovering the value in waste enables the city to divert up to 60 percent of residential waste from landfill, increasing to 90 to in 2016 with the addition of the Waste to biofuels and chemicals facility. The Edmonton Waste Management Centre, situated on a 233-hectare site in the city's northeast, encompasses the world's largest collection of integrated state-of-the-art facilities for solid waste management.