Enerkem Building Trash-to-Fuels Plant

The Canadian biofuels company Enerkem has started construction on a facility in the province of Alberta that will turn 100,000 tons of municipal waste into biofuels each year.

The company says it is the first to build a commercial-scale facility of this kind. The CAD $80 million plant will have an annual production capacity of 10 million gallons – enough fuel to operate 200,000 cars on a 10 percent ethanol blend. If all goes as planned, the plant will be running in 2011.

Companies like Coskata, BlueFire Renewables and Changing World Technologies are working on similar projects (with varying technologies). However, none have begun construction of commercial-scale plants.

The city of Edmonton has signed a 25-year contract with Enerkem to produce fuels from waste that can’t be recycled or composted. Edomonton officials say that 90 percent of the city’s waste will be diverted from the landfill by 2013.

The company is planning a similar-sized facility for Mississippi, which is planned for completion in 2013.

Waste Management, a company focusing heavily on landfill gas projects around the U.S., invested $51 million in Enerkem in February of this year. The investment will help Enerkem build and operate its U.S. facility.

Below is a brief video from the groundbreaking event at the end of August.

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