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'World’s first' municipal waste-to-ethanol facility starts production

A picture of Enerkem's state-of-the-art Edomonton biofuels facility, the world's first commercial scale plant to produce cellulosic ethanol made from non-recyclable, non-compostable mixed municipal solid waste. (CNW Group/Enerkem Inc)
A picture of Enerkem's state-of-the-art Edomonton biofuels facility, the world's first commercial scale plant to produce cellulosic ethanol made from non-recyclable, non-compostable mixed municipal solid waste. (CNW Group/Enerkem Inc)

Enerkem has announced that commercial production of cellulosic ethanol has started at its facility in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. According to a statement from the company, it is the first commerical scale plant in the world to produce cellulosic ethanol from non-recyclable, non-compostable mixed municipal waste.

“The commercial production of cellulosic ethanol at our facility in Edmonton marks a landmark moment for our company as well as our customers in the waste management and petrochemical sectors, and confirms our leadership in the advanced biofuels market,” says Vincent Chornet, President and Chief Executive Officer of Enerkem. 

Enerkem has been producing and selling biomethanol since 2016, and expanded production to include cellulosic ethanol with the installation of its methanol-to-ethanol conversion unit early in 2017.

According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, the advanced biofuels market is expected to grow to reach 124 billion litres per year by 2030.

“We will now progressively increase production in Edmonton, while preparing to build the next Enerkem facilities locally and around the world,” adds Chornet.

Enerkem explains in a statement that its cellulosic ethanol provides two major environmental and sustainability benefits. Advanced biofuels are helping to facilitate more sustainable transportation by producing fuels that replace a large portion of gasoline. At the same time, Enerkem’s system disrupts the traditional waste landfilling and incineration models, offering an alternative to communities looking to recover waste while sustainably fuelling vehicles. 

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A picture of Enerkem's state-of-the-art Edomonton biofuels facility, the world's first commercial scale plant to produce cellulosic ethanol made from non-recyclable, non-compostable mixed municipal solid waste. (CNW Group/Enerkem Inc)