Construction to begin on Alberta advanced energy research facility

By Hope Deutscher | July 08, 2009
Report posted July 10, 2009, at 10:14 a.m. CST

Enerkem, the Alberta Energy Research Institute and the city of Edmonton, Alberta, plan to begin construction on a $127 million waste-to-biofuels advanced energy research facility. AERI is funding the facility, which will be supported by Enerkem, a leading waste-to-biofuels technology and green chemicals company. Through AERI, the Alberta government has contributed $9 million in funding to the project.

Enerkem will develop the center in collaboration with Edmonton. "Edmontonians are world leaders in environmental sustainability," Mayor Stephen Mandel said. "We have already pioneered several ground-breaking waste management strategies and this research center will unleash the tremendous potential that exists for recovering value from waste."

The research center is part of a biofuels project which will include the research facility, a municipal waste processing facility being built by Edmonton, and a 36 MMly (9.51 MMgy) commercial municipal solid waste (MSW)-to-cellulosic ethanol plant that will be built by Enerkem GreenField Alberta Biofuels. In May, Enerkem announced that the commercial waste-to-ethanol production facility had successfully completed the necessary environmental regulatory process and was granted a permit to commence construction. Enerkem and GreenField Ethanol are collaborating on the project. The two companies will jointly own, build and operate the cellulosic ethanol plant. The city of Edmonton has agreed to provide the two companies with 100,000 tons of sorted MSW per year.

Design of the biofuels facility is currently underway and construction is scheduled to start this year. Construction on the municipal waste processing facility is already underway. Construction of the research facility is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2010.

"Enerkem is proud to be a partner on this novel project which will position Alberta and Canada at the center of advanced energy research," said Vincent Chornet, president and CEO of Enerkem. "This research facility will become an important component in furthering our company's dedication to innovation, allowing us to attract some of the country's brightest minds."

The research facility will focus on developing and demonstrating novel catalytic conversion processes to produce advanced biofuels and green chemicals from non-hazardous industrial waste from a variety of industry, including oil and gas, agriculture, and forestry, as well as from the municipal sector. According to Enerkem, it will welcome top researchers from Alberta and Canada, particularly those specialized in thermo-catalysis, to take part in developing a new line of alcohol and hydrocarbon fuels.

An Edmonton-AERI steering group and a technical committee will guide and implement the research and development activities.

"This is another example of Alberta's commitment to using science to develop alternative energy and minimize environmental impacts," said Doug Horner, Alberta's Minister of Advanced Education and Technology. "Waste management and energy development are turning a corner in our province, with our partners showing the world new possibilities for the future."