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A single ton of waste can fuel a car for 1,550 miles. Consider that the U.S. and Canada produce millions of tons yearly, that's truly exciting.  (Source: Enerkem)

Enerkem already has a running commercial-scale plant in Westbury, Quebec, and is building another in Edmonton, Alberta with funding from Waste Management (the Westbury plant's "Gasifier and Syngas Conditioning Equipment" are shown here).  (Source: Enerkem)
Enerkem's corporate plan is in the trash -- literally

In the U.S. the average person generates 4.5 lb. of municipal solid waste (MSW) per day [1].  That's millions of tons of waste over the course of the year.  A lot of that waste contains valuable hydrocarbons that rot in landfills releasing gases like methane.  Regardless of your stance on carbon pollution, it seems unfortunate to be letting all those energy-rich molecules go to waste.

Enerkem, a Canadian-based alternative energy startup, is looking to change that and they've found a big backer in Waste Management.  Waste Management, along with institutional investors Rho Ventures, Braemar Energy Ventures, BDR Capital, and Cycle Capital have given Enerkem $53.8M USD in financing to start launching gasification plants.

The waste-to-gas maker already proved its mettle with a pilot plant in Sherbrooke, a city in southern Quebec, and a commercial scale facility in Westbury, a township in southeastern Quebec.  The commercial-scale plant opened in 2009 and has since put in 1,000 hours of operation.

The new funding, along with a $50M USD grant from the U.S. Department of Energy will fund a new plant in Edmonton, Alberta, which will take in 100,000 tons of dry waste yearly and will produce 10 million gallons of biofuel.  The plant has a 25 year contract with the city of Edmonton.  The plant should have plenty of waste to keep it running; according to recent estimates Canadians have the highest per-capita waste output of any country in the world, with the average person producing 5.05 lb of waste per day.

caught up an Enerkem representative to find out more about the company's plans.  According to Enerkem, the new plant will cost $80M Canadian (appr. $77.3 USD).  The plant, like Enerkem's others, relies on the waste being first gasified.  Commercially available catalysts then react the waste gas to form methanol, acetates and ethanol in a sequential conversion process.

The first plants are also capable of producing syngas, a mix of carbon monoxide and hydrogen.  Enerkem's representative says that the company's technology should allow it to produce synthetic gasoline in future plants as well.  Unfortunately, Enerkem, like many alternative energy startups, declines to publish its operational costs so that remains an open question.

It did however, share with us its reduction carbon footprint, which it estimates amounts to an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gases versus traditional landfilling.  We asked Enerkem if they would consider using a biological fermentation process (driven by genetically modified bacteria) as an alternative to commercial enzymes.  Enerkem responds, "In periphery, we are looking at different biological processes to ferment our synthetic gas into alcohols and high-value chemicals."

While some details remain unknown, it's exciting to see some enterprising startups looking to take advantage of the wealth of energy we let go to waste in landfills every day.  It won't be cheap to implement the infrastructure needed to harvest this energy, but at the end of the day, it seems like it will be well worth it, assuming it can be efficiently implemented.

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Go figure
By mdogs444 on 3/3/2010 9:36:40 AM , Rating: 2
The new funding, along with a $50M USD grant from the U.S. Department of Energy will fund a new plant in Edmonton, Alberta, which will take in 100,000 tons of dry waste yearly and will produce 10 million gallons of biofuel.

Wow, what a great move Congress. Complain about over spending, the need for jobs, talking about tax hikes....and you're spending borrowed US money to create jobs in....Canada?

No offense to Canadians, but they should fund their own projects. If a $50M GRANT that does not need to be repaid is given out, there should be obvious stipulations that it can only be used domestically. This is about as much nonsense as using stimulus funds to dig up dinosaur bones in South America and study hookers in China.

RE: Go figure
By Iaiken on 3/3/2010 10:26:27 AM , Rating: 5
The $50 Million DOE grant was for a Biorefinery project in Pontotoc, Mississippi and not in Edmonton, Alberta.

The Edmonton plant is being built exclusively with investment dollars by the listed corporations and private investors. The DOE grant is explicit in that funding is commensurate on it be used to fund US projects, even if it is a Canadian company that is the one executing it.

Next time make sure that what you are freaking out over is more than just a botched story.

RE: Go figure
By mdogs444 on 3/3/2010 10:33:10 AM , Rating: 3
If what you are saying is correct, then its fine (whether i personally agree with the project or not). But the way this article was written, I believe it was implying exactly what I thought.

RE: Go figure
By whiskerwill on 3/3/2010 11:10:08 AM , Rating: 1
So they're using US tax dollars, to ship waste from Canada to Mississippi? I can't see this EVER being profitable without continually sucking on the government tit.

RE: Go figure
By Iaiken on 3/3/2010 12:04:06 PM , Rating: 5
You seriously can't be that stupid.

The money is to build a plant in Mississippi for trash in the Mississippi area. :P

RE: Go figure
By whiskerwill on 3/3/2010 12:47:07 PM , Rating: 1
The story says a $50M DOE grant is for a plant with a contract with the city of Edmonton...which is in Canada. You come along and say the plant is in Mississippi.

So either the story is just full of hogcrap, or they're shipping the trash. I know Jason isn't exactly a model of accuracy, but he usually gets at least something right in a story.

RE: Go figure
By Yawgm0th on 3/3/2010 1:09:25 PM , Rating: 3
The story says a $50M DOE grant is for a plant with a contract with the city of Edmonton...which is in Canada.
The linked story or the DT article?
MONTREAL, Dec. 7 /CNW Telbec/ - Enerkem Inc. today announced that Enerkem Corporation, its wholly-owned U.S. affiliate, has been selected by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to receive US$50 million in funding for the construction and operation of its waste-to-biofuels facility to be located in Pontotoc, Mississippi.
Bolding is my emphasis. TFA on DT was discredited in the post to which you replied. Did you reply without actually reading the post and clicking the link, or did you hit reply on the wrong post?
I know Jason isn't exactly a model of accuracy, but he usually gets at least something right in a story.
Jason did get some things right in this story. Among them was not the location at which the plant will be constructed.

RE: Go figure
By Samus on 3/3/2010 12:54:57 PM , Rating: 2
Good, they can start with cleaning up their filthy river :)

RE: Go figure
By Yawgm0th on 3/3/2010 12:51:53 PM , Rating: 2
So they're using US tax dollars, to ship waste from Canada to Mississippi?
Is this failed sarcasm or did you actually somehow come to this conclusion?

RE: Go figure
By Yawgm0th on 3/3/2010 12:51:56 PM , Rating: 2
So they're using US tax dollars, to ship waste from Canada to Mississippi?
Is this failed sarcasm or did you actually somehow come to this conclusion?

RE: Go figure
By Yawgm0th on 3/3/2010 12:53:00 PM , Rating: 4
God. Dammit.

RE: Go figure
By Jaazu on 3/3/2010 10:32:42 AM , Rating: 2
That $50m is going to Mississippi. Way to jump on the "I hate our government" bandwagon though.

Enerkem Awarded $50M Funding By U.S. Department Of Energy For Its Mississippi Biorefinery Project
December 10, 2009

RE: Go figure
By mdogs444 on 3/3/2010 10:35:10 AM , Rating: 4
I already can't stand our government.

But my opposition stems from exactly how Mick wrote the article. He explicitly says that $50M US Grant is being used for the plant in Canada.

RE: Go figure
By Iaiken on 3/3/2010 10:58:03 AM , Rating: 4
Yeah, well that's Mick for ya.

By Bruneauinfo on 3/3/2010 8:28:56 AM , Rating: 4
Now they just need to shrink this tech down and give Mr. Fusion a run for his money!

RE: Miniaturization
By lokigreybush on 3/3/2010 8:39:50 AM , Rating: 4
Great Scott!!!

RE: Miniaturization
By marvdmartian on 3/3/2010 10:35:06 AM , Rating: 4
That's heavy, man!! ;)

RE: Miniaturization
By JediJeb on 3/3/2010 3:40:03 PM , Rating: 2

Look about halfway down on the right at the photo of the original prototype of the Mr. Fusion lol.

RE: Miniaturization
By Morphine06 on 3/3/2010 10:22:31 AM , Rating: 2
In other news: The price of Deloreans sky rockets!

Finally someone making good use of this technology
By JediJeb on 3/3/2010 11:13:10 AM , Rating: 3
Gasification was what I studied in college. Back then it was focused on coal as the starter material though. It has been used in South Africa for decades to produce their gasoline from coal, since they had little petroleum to work with and coal was plentiful there. The first work on this started in Germany during WWII as the Germans were in the same situation of having coal and not much petroleum.

Also the Syngas they are talking about has been in use for over a century, though not much since the early 1900. This was also called Towngas and is what was used to light the gaslights in peoples homes and on streets before electricity. Simple cooking of coal gave off CO and H2 which burned quite well in domestic lights. This was before Natural Gas was popular, since it was easy to build a Syngas plant in each town then whereas cross country pipelines for Natural Gas were no in place at the time.

The gasification process can also be used to make almost any starter organic molecules just like you get from distilling petroleum, so in a sense you can make just about anything from the garbage being thrown away with this process. If they can work out the processes so that it will be profitable (the biggest hurdle to be dealt with) then this would be a very good thing for controlling the excessive amount of waste we have to put into landfills each year.

By porkpie on 3/3/2010 11:13:33 AM , Rating: 2
This is why I think hydrogen and even electric cars (barring some incredible tech revolution in batteries) aren't going to take off.

We'll just keep using gasoline from petroleum for the next 80-100 years...then when it runs out, we'll just continue to produce gas synthetically.

By JediJeb on 3/3/2010 12:09:09 PM , Rating: 2
Can use the syngas directly in an internal combustion engine also, so not necessary to convert it into gasoline.

About half way down notice the photo of the car with a syngas generator on the back that was build in 1941. Now that would be the precursor to the Mr. Fusion device lol.

Reading through that the technology is very close to what it was when I was studying it 20 years ago. I went to one of the universities that was selected to train chemist to operate the coal gasification plants that the DOE was planning to build in the late 70s, but in the early 80's the projects were killed off, yet our chemistry department was still teaching the course, and was heavily into coal research. After I left they were moving their focus to applying the same ideas to yard waste and saw dust type products which this seems to follow.

By AnnihilatorX on 3/4/2010 4:06:54 AM , Rating: 2
We'll just keep using gasoline from petroleum for the next 80-100 years...then when it runs out, we'll just continue to produce gas synthetically.

I'd rather not have that prospect.
Hydrogen or fuel cell cars for example, may not make sense in terms of technicality at the moment. However, they are zero emission on the road, and are quiet. This ultimately lead to much less pollutants and particulates in the air, as well as much quieter neighbourhood. I'd take this over anything else.

By porkpie on 3/4/2010 8:52:02 AM , Rating: 2
Gas-powered cars are two orders of magnitude (100X) cleaner today than they were 30 years ago. In 80 years, they'll be at least that much cleaner again. Pollution really isn't a longterm problem...the air in our cities is already far cleaner than it used to be, despite more people driving much further than ever before.

As for noise, there's no reason you can't power a fuel cell with gasoline, rather than hydrogen. That keeps you from having to solve H2's thorny energy density issue, as well as not having to rebuild the nation's entire fuel distribution network.

We dont need to go to Canada
By GreenPowerInc on 3/3/2010 2:01:53 PM , Rating: 3
We at Green Power Inc for now over 2 Years built and operate a Full Scale System converting all forms of Waste which have Hydro Carbons in it, so nearly everything you throw away with the exception of Metal, Glass and stones into High Quality Fossil Free Fuels. The Fuel can be straight filed into cars and engines, Airplanes etc. no modifications needed. Now you will ask why is this not all over, because of one Beaurocrat in Spokane Washington Ecology Office as he stops us all the way. Other Countries are contracting with us, but in US we are still not allowed to operate full time. We had to lay people off and are asked to move manufacturing overseas, we don’t want to but the local Government actions may force us to do so, so we would lose here in US cheap local Fuel out of waste and the Jobs as well. It feels very bad as we did not take any Government funding to build our system. Our system is ready at full scale and can be implemented anywhere in the world it can give countries fuel and energy independence out of local resources at a much lower price than regular fuel on the Market.
• We have the solution we believe check us out at or on our website
We did it without Government help and we have it working to prove our claim, on full scale not just lab scale ideas. Why spend Billions of Government funding to develop something when we already have it.
Your Green Power Inc Team
And Garbage we have all over the world enough to do it!

RE: We dont need to go to Canada
By porkpie on 3/3/2010 3:03:34 PM , Rating: 2
A Washington State environmentalist bureaucrat shuts down a project bringing jobs and prosperity to the region?

Who would have thunk it?

RE: We dont need to go to Canada
By JediJeb on 3/3/2010 3:44:56 PM , Rating: 2
Jason, can you look into this GreenPower and give us a report on it here on DT? Seems if that is true, it would make a good article from both the tech side and political side.

By msomeoneelsez on 3/10/2010 7:44:04 PM , Rating: 2
100% agreed.

I just KNEW IT!
By Yeah on 3/3/2010 12:31:12 PM , Rating: 2
LOL sorry but the most I got out of this article was::

Canadians Produce 5.5lb of ....

Them Canadians ARE Full of sh!t...

</joke off>

RE: I just KNEW IT!
By Yawgm0th on 3/3/2010 1:03:11 PM , Rating: 2
Ten points for you, sir. Would have been twenty if you hadn't hedged for negative reaction with the joke tag and "LOL".

Today Eco-news
By shikigamild on 3/3/2010 11:18:33 AM , Rating: 1
I was shocked when I found out Jason posted todays eco news on DailyTech... NOT

RE: Today Eco-news
By milkyway4me on 3/3/2010 1:26:15 PM , Rating: 1
I don't mind eco-news, as long as it doesn't have a liberal's emotional appeals all over it in the form of "we must lower our standard of living to save the planet". This article isn't bad in that sense, it's more like something news should be... informative. Scientific discovery in this field needs to continue, but we have enough natural resources like oil and coal for a very long time and should be drilling for oil every chance we get.

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