Engineering News

Enerkem Begins Biofuels Plant Start-up
January 13, 2009

Enerkem Inc. announced Monday that its first commercial-scale plant located in Westbury, Quebec, is entering the start-up phase with the production of its clean conditioned synthesis gas.

Construction on the plant began in October 2007 and the facility was mechanically complete in December 2008. The conditioned synthesis gas ("syngas") island has been finalized and is in an advanced commissioning stage in preparation for its upcoming start-up. The premium syngas island serves as the chemical production platform, from which the methanol and ethanol production modules will be added progressively over the next months. 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 conditioned synthesis gas island is the core of our technology platform as it is where we produce a clean tailored syngas that serves as a chemical source for the production of advanced biofuels and biochemicals," said Vincent Chornet, President and Chief Executive Officer of Enerkem.

"We have followed a rigorous path to commercialization since the beginning of our pilot plant back in 2003 and we intend to apply the same disciplined approach at Westbury. The first step is our premium syngas which leads to our goal of becoming a world leader in the production of second-generation transportation fuels and green chemicals."

The company's Westbury plant will be the world's first ethanol plant to use negative-cost and unconventional materials - treated wood from used electricity poles. It is operated by a team of 13 people and will, at term, produce 5 million liters (1.3 million gallons) of second-generation ethanol annually. The Enerkem thermo-chemical process uses one tonne of waste to produce 360 liters (95 gallons) of ethanol: enough fuel for a car to travel 2,500 km (1,550 miles), the distance from Winnipeg to Montreal, or Los Angeles to Houston.

Unlike first-generation biofuels, or agrofuels, which are produced from sugar-rich crops such as corn and sugar cane, Enerkem's second-generation biofuels are produced from biomass and waste materials.

Enerkem is a leader in the development and production of advanced biofuels and green chemicals. The company is headquartered in Montreal, Quebec, and has engineering offices in Sherbrooke, Quebec. Enerkem's gasification, sequential gas conditioning and catalysis technology converts sorted municipal solid waste, as well as forest and agricultural residues into second generation transportation fuels and green chemicals. The company has a pilot plant in operation since 2003 in Sherbrooke, Quebec. Its first commercial-scale ethanol plant based in Westbury, Quebec, is entering start-up phase and the company will soon begin the construction of a third plant in Edmonton, Alberta, that will transform sorted household waste into ethanol for cars, buses and trucks. Enerkem is a private company financed by leading US venture capital firms Rho Ventures and Braemar Energy Ventures, the Canadian investment fund BDR Capital and the Company's management.

Source: Enerkem Inc.

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