Montreal-based Enerkem Inc. says it is entering the start-up phase for its first commercial-scale plant, which in this case is designed to convert old utility poles into five million litres of cellulosic ethanol every year. The plant, based in Westbury, Quebec, began construction in October 2007 and its core — the “conditioned synthesis gas island” — was completed in December. The plant is now in its advanced commissioning stage and production of conditioned syngas will soon begin. The gas will be used as a chemical feedstock initially to make methanol, which will be converted into ethanol using a separate module. “Once these gas-to-liquid modules are bolted to the syngas island, Enerkem will become the first producer of liquid fuels and green chemicals to commercially use renewable, non-food, negative-cost feedstock,” the company said. “The Enerkem thermo-chemical process uses one tonne of waste to produce 360 litres (95 gallons) of ethanol,” the company said. That’s enough fuel for a car to travel 2,500 kilometres.
Last June, you’ll recall that Enerkem, in partnership with Greenfield Ethanol, announced it is building a plant in Edmonton that will convert municipal solid waste into cellulosic ethanol. This is a company to watch.