Tag Archives: Greenfield Ethanol

Waste Management invests in Enerkem as part of $53.8 million round

Kudos to Vincent Chornet. The president, CEO and co-founder of Montreal-based Enerkem (along with his father, Esteban) has in just a few years turned his company into a leading player in the emerging waste-to-fuel market. Today, Enerkem gained even more momentum, announcing it had secured $53.8 million in venture financing in a round that included Houston-based Waste Management, the continent’s top waste-management firm.

Enerkem uses a thermochemical fluidized-bed process to gasify municipal solid waste (organics, wood waste, plastics), demolition wood, and agricultural/forest residues. The resulting syngas is cleaned and, using a proven catalyst, can be turned into a variety of end products, including methanol, ethanol and high-value olefins (plastics). The company is in the process of building a waste-to-ethanol facility in Mississippi (75 million litres a year) and an Edmonton plant (36 million litres a year) that will also turn sorted municipal solid waste into ethanol. The Edmonton facility is being done in partnership with Greenfield Ethanol, Canada’s largest independent ethanol producer. Meanwhile, in Westbury, Quebec, the company has a commercial-scale demonstration facility that currently turns old wooden hydro poles into ethanol.

Rho Ventures, Braemar Energy Ventures and BDR Capital, all existing investors, participated in the financing round with Waste Management, along with new investor Cycle Capital. “This financing round validates Enerkem’s business and advances our path towards leadership in the waste and advanced fuels markets,” said Chornet in a release. In an earlier story (July 2008) I wrote for Greentech Media, Chornet said that burning waste or burning the syngas created from waste is, well, a waste. Based on electricity and ethanol prices at the time, a company can make three times more revenue per tonne of processed waste compared to a plant that simply burns its syngas to generate electricity, he said. Chornet also said Enerkem’s process is profitable with oil at $50 a barrel and if the company can get a competitive tipping fee to take the garage.

SDTC injects $53 million into 16 more cleantech projects

Sustainable Development Technlogy Canada just completed its 13th funding round, this time putting $53 million into 16 cleantech projects and bringing its total funding to $376 million. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, SDTC only invests if private consortia come to the table with two-thirds of project funding. In total, 154 project have been funded with $1.3 billion in public-private funds.

Here are, in my opinion, some of the more interesting projects that got funded in this round: Continue reading SDTC injects $53 million into 16 more cleantech projects

Plant to convert electricity poles to ethanol enters startup phase

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.