Another Man’s Trash

An innovative facility in Edmonton Canada has become the world’s first industrial-scale plant to convert solid waste into usable biofuels and chemicals.

The waste-to-biofuels initiative is a collaborative effort between the city of Edmonton and the private company Enerkem. “We break down the waste using heat and convert it into a gas that is as clean as natural gas. Then we convert the gas into liquid methanol — and all of that happens in 3 minutes,” shares Enerkem CEO Vincent Chornet in a report by Global News Canada.

To date, 60 percent of Edmonton’s garbage is diverted from landfills through recycling and composting programs. With the facility providing waste-to-biofuel conversion, the rate will become 90 percent by 2016. This will allow the public to opt to pay Enerkem to process waste into something useful as opposed to sending it to a landfill to rot. An estimated 100,000 tons of waste will be directed to the plant and will cost the city the same amount it does for garbage disposal. 

Biofuel Takes a Step Forward

Already considered a world leader in waste management, Edmonton’s Enerkem initiative takes their efforts a step further by giving the city a financially sustainable solution for city-wide garbage disposal. The technology behind the facility has been in the works for 10 years, with Edmonton studying how to effectively and sustainably provide solutions to manage waste since the 90s.

The Enerkem plant is designed to run on commercial biofuels all day to process the volume of residential and commercial waste from the city, producing an estimated volume of 38 million liters of fuel grade cellulosic methanol and other biochemicals per year. 

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