Industrial-scale MSW-to-biofuels facility to locate in Alberta

By Erin Vogele | June 02, 2008
Web exclusive posted June 30, 2008 at 12:06 p.m. CST

Edmonton, Alberta, will soon be home to the world's first industrial-scale facility producing biofuel from municipal solid waste (MSW). The city has signed a 25-year agreement with Canada's leading ethanol producer GreenField Ethanol Inc. and Montreal-based Enerkem, a leading biofuels technology company.

The $70 million facility will initially produce approximately 9.5 millions gallons of biofuel annually. Alberta's carbon dioxide footprint will be reduced by more than 6 million metric tons over the next 25 years, the equivalent of removing 12,000 cars from the road each year. Construction on the facility is expected to begin in early 2009, with methanol production starting in 2010, and ethanol production beginning in 2011.

"This facility is another fine example for the world that Alberta is a great place for companies to bring newly commercialized technology to the marketplace," Alberta's Minister of Advanced Education and Technology Doug Horner said. "All of the partners can be pleased that they are part of a facility that is taking a lead role in developing innovative technologies and making a real difference for the environment."

Through the Alberta Energy Research Institute, the city of Edmonton and the government of Alberta are contributing $20 million to the facility. The city of Edmonton will also contribute $50 million to related processing and researching facilities. AERI's total contribution will be $29 million.

"This unique partnership with private companies and the provincial government builds on our global leadership in municipal waste management," Edmonton's Mayor Stephen Mandel said. "It will enable us to make a noted contribution to reducing greenhouse gases and become the first major city in North America to achieve 90 percent residential waste diversion from landfill. We are also excited to be proceeding with the caliber of this partnership and look forward to seeing this facility on stream in the near future."

Vincent Chornet, president and chief executive officer of Enerkem, said the new facility will be a first for both the biofuels and waste management industries. "This is the world's first agreement signed between a large urban centre and a biofuel producer to turn municipal waste into ethanol," Chornet said. "Edmonton is a pioneer in waste management practices and it is setting new standards for other municipalities. We are proud to be working with Edmonton, Greenfield Ethanol and the Government of Alberta through the Alberta Energy Research Institute as partners on this exciting project."

"This next generation biofuels facility will offer drivers a new choice in transportation fuels," said Donald Pierce, president of Greenfield Ethanol's Advanced Biofuels Group. "Greenfield is thrilled to be leading in the development of next generation ethanol along with partners Enerkem, the City of Edmonton and the Province of Albertaworld leaders in providing innovative technologies that help build a sustainable future."

The facility is the first to be announced by Greenfield Ethanol and Enerkem since the recent announcement of their partnership to jointly design, build and operate commercial next-generation ethanol plants.