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‘World’s first’ commercial plant to produce biofuel from municipal waste

By Gerald Parkinson |

Enerkem Inc. (Montreal, Can-ada; www.enerkem.com) has broken ground in Edmonton, Alberta, on what is said to be the world’s first industrial-scale plant to produce liquid fuel from municipal solid waste. When the plant starts up at the end of 2011, it will convert 100,000 metric tons per year (m.t./yr) of garbage into 10-million gal/yr of methanol, followed by ethanol, under a 25-year supply contract with the City of Edmonton. The garbage represents 40% of the city’s waste that is currently landfilled because it cannot be recycled or composted. Source: Enerkem In Enerkem’s process, garbage is shredded and gasified in a bubbling fluidized bed at “low severity” (750–800°C and atmospheric pressure). The severity is increased in stages to produce a synthesis gas that is mainly carbon monoxide and hydrogen. Particulate matter is removed by cyclones, then the gas is water-scrubbed, compressed and converted sequentially, by proprietary catalytic processes, to methanol, acetate, and finally to ethanol. Early next year Enerkem will start construction on a similar plant in Pontotoc, Miss., supported by $50 million in funding from the U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE; Washington, D.C.; www.energy.gov).
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