• Sep 9th 2010 at 2:00PM
  • 17

Let's face it, garbage isn't a pleasant sight. That is, unless you're the head of Enerkem Alberta Biofuels, the company responsible for converting 100,000 tons of Edmonton's trash over to 36 million liters of biofuel beginning in late 2011. Ripping garbage out of landfills and converting it to a usable fuel is Enerkem's specialty and its recent groundbreaking event in Edmonton, Canada will eventually lead to the creation of what the company claims will be, "the world's first industrial-scale biofuels project to use municipal solid waste as feedstock."

The garbage-to-biofuel facility should be fully operational by late 2011 and will help rid the city of 90 percent of its non-reusable solid waste. The biofuel production facility is expected to reduce Edmonton's greenhouse gas emissions to the same level as removing 42,000 vehicles from the city's roads each year. And here's something else to ponder: Edmonton's garbage trucks may soon begin refueling with biofuels made from the waste that they delivered just days earlier. How's that for a closed loop?

[Source: City of Edmonton]


Imagine Using Household Garbage to Fuel Your Car

Construction has started on the world's first industrial scale municipal waste-to-biofuels facility.

The $80 million facility will be built, owned and operated by Enerkem Alberta Biofuels and will produce 36 million litres of biofuels a year and reduce Alberta's carbon dioxide (CO2) footprint by six million tonnes over the next 25 years-the equivalent of removing 42,000 cars off the road every year.

Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach, Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel and Enerkem Chief Executive Officer, Vincent Chornet participated in the groundbreaking event.

The waste-to-biofuels facility is expected to be operational in late 2011. It will convert 100,000 tonnes of municipal solid waste into biofuels annually. It will create over 50 permanent direct and indirect jobs and will contribute to the federal and provincial renewable fuel standards. The feedstock for producing biofuels is municipal solid waste that cannot be recycled or composted and has traditionally been sent to landfill.

"Alberta is an energy province," said Premier Ed Stelmach. "This project is another example of how our government is helping develop leading-edge renewable and non-renewable energy technology. I applaud the vision and dedication the partners have shown to make this pioneering project a reality."

"Edmonton's environmental leadership has us continually looking to set the bar higher," said Edmonton Mayor, Stephen Mandel. "As a result of this facility, we will become the first major city in North America to see 90 per cent of residential waste diverted from landfill by 2013. This is a major achievement, and a big step towards a greener Edmonton! Thanks to all our partners whose innovation and commitment to sustainability are helping to reduce our carbon footprint."

"This groundbreaking marks the launch of a transformative project and leads the first wave of commercial-scale advanced biorefineries in North America," said Enerkem's Chief Executive Officer, Vincent Chornet. "Enerkem looks forward to providing the citizens of Edmonton with a clean alternative to landfilling and Albertans with a clean transportation fuel."

The Biofuels Facility is part of a larger initiative totalling $131 million which also includes a feedstock preparation facility and an Advanced Energy Research Facility. The Government of Alberta supported this initiative through Alberta Innovates – Energy and Environment Solutions ($29 million) and Alberta Energy ($3.35 million). The City of Edmonton contributed $42 million to the total project.

For more information on this project, visit edmontonbiofuels.ca.
Visit the Edmonton Biofuels website shortly after the event for high-resolution photos.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Months Ago
      I was meant to say.

      You could go further on each gallon of bio fuel if it was used in a combined cycle power plant to generate electricity for EV's. About 60% efficient power generation (combined cycle) 95% transmission and 85% tank to Wheels. = 48.45% well to wheels efficiency. That is 8% to 13% more efficient than the best diesels.

      • 8 Months Ago
      Great! I don't have to recycle anymore!
        • 8 Months Ago
        Ernie said, " You can't really make biofuel out of plastic, glass and tin."

        No, but you can make alcohol fuel, namely methanol, out of plastic, styrofoam, etc.
        • 8 Months Ago
        "You can't really make biofuel out of plastic..."

        It might not be called "biofuel", but plastic can easily be made back into fuel.


        • 8 Months Ago
        Just to be clear:

        36 million liters of ethanol weighs ~28,404 tonnes (not tons)

        That leaves 71,596 tonnes of waste to return to the landfill if 100,000 tonnes went into the process.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Keep it up. We have to fend off 'peak trash'
        • 8 Months Ago
        Yes you do. They aim to use 90% of the *non reusable* garbage in Edmonton's landfill. By which they mean things like food waste. You can't really make biofuel out of plastic, glass and tin.

        And household waste isn't even half of what goes into landfills anyway. Much of the waste that gets thrown out are things like carpets, drywall, and other building supplies like lumber and steel. Most of that stuff is recyclable however, and modern renovation companies are starting to come around on that.
      • 8 Months Ago
      This is one issue that I think politicians are not talking about enough. Clean energy is the key to our future survival and success as a human race. In my opinion, we are past trying to come up with simply developing different types of transmissions like the ones built near Edmonton; we need to be looking for new fuel options, and building cars in an entirely different way. http://www.albertatransmission.ca
      • 8 Months Ago
      You could go further on each gallon of bio fuel if it was used in a combined cycle power plant to generate electrcity for EV's. About 60% efficent power generation 95% transmission and 85% tank to Wheels. = 48.45% well to wheels effiency thats 8% to 13% effiecncy.
      • 8 Months Ago
      I'm glad they're using thermo-chemical technologies. This is the key method by which basically any kind of biomass can be made into alcohol fuel, especially methanol and its diesel fuel derivative, di-methyl ether.

      With alternative fuels, it makes a great deal of sense to switch government vehicles such as garbage trucks, fire trucks, school buses, and the like over to use them, since you can simply mandate their use in a way that would cause backlash if imposed on the private sector.

      There's simply no excuse for any civilian government land or water vehicle to use petroleum fuel. And in an economic downturn in need of stimulus, imposing a very tight deadline (such as one year) for converting or replacing ALL such vehicles to alternative fuel-only capability and usage makes sense too.
        • 8 Months Ago
        "...pointing out that alcohol fuel is clean-burning, renewable, affordable, and doesn't fund terrorism and related extremism."

        I agree that alcohols have a lot of benefits, including energy independence and renewablity, but burning it isn't really one of them. Burning anything produces harmful emissions, and alcohol fuels are about even with petroleum based fuels based on emissions.

        "Due to its ozone effects, future E85 may be a greater overall public health risk than gasoline. However, because of the uncertainty in future emission regulations, it can be concluded with confidence only that E85 is unlikely to improve air quality over future gasoline vehicles. Unburned ethanol emissions from E85 may result in a global-scale source of acetaldehyde larger than that of direct emissions."


        Now put that alcohol in a reformer and use it in a fuel cell, and then you're using that alcohol cleanly.

        • 8 Months Ago
        Letstakeawalk, methanol/oxygen fuel cells are indeed an interesting technology that merit intensive and eager pursuit, but there's no need to wait for them.

        Don't reject a solution that is dramatically better than the status quo in favor of dragging out the status quo for much longer as you wait around for perfection which may or may not ever arrive.

        While burning anything produces emissions, burning somethings is worse than others. And burning petroleum is far worse than burning alcohol, thus alcohol is a dramatic improvement.

        The study you cite has a glaring, fatal flaw: it states "The major
        human carcinogens emitted during gasoline and E85 combustion are formaldehyde,
        acetaldehyde, 1,3-butadiene, and benzene." It thus ignores the central role of soot, smoke, and particulate matter in creating conventional smog, which the EPA states is the cause of 40,000 deaths a year in the US alone.

        Alcohol, of course, burns with no smoke, soot, or particulate emissions at all. Or sulfur, the cause of acid rain.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Beavker = Pwned
        • 8 Months Ago
        That's why it's being done in Canada and soon in other developed countries that can actually do this without the wrath of the Tea Bagger. Believe me, the Right would attack it in any way they know how, and it woud be delayed and stymied to the hilt in Congress (see: Senate) and thus either take a decade or never come to fruition. Big oil would be displeased to see this happen in the U.S.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Um, I'm on the right. So are leading backers of alcohol fuel such as Frank Gaffney (head of the Center for Security Policy), Clifford May (head of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies), and the prime sponsor of S. 835, the Open Fuel Standards Act, Sam Brownback (R-KS and member of the Senate).

        Furthermore, there are hordes of those on the left who hate alcohol fuel, many of whom repeat oil interest spread FUD against it, and some of whom actively collaborate with oil interests. Malthusian zealot David Pimentel (who wants to ban beef production, slash the US standard of living in half, blames pollution for 40% of all world deaths, and even opposes pet ownership) writes an endless stream of defective papers attacking alcohol fuel, which are then spammed all over the debate even after they are discredited, and his main co-author is T. Patzek, a former Shell Executive.

        I've frequently run across the visceral anger Leftists feel at the very prospect of a free people being able to continue to move about as we choose, using large, powerful, fast, robust vehicles. Their eagerness to humiliate and punish Western societies, and Americans in particular, by stuffing us all into tiny austerity-mobiles or herding us obediently onto mass transit, is palpable, and in no way mollified by pointing out that alcohol fuel is clean-burning, renewable, affordable, and doesn't fund terrorism and related extremism

        If your aggressive ignorance and smug arrogance didn't discredit you totally enough, your juvenile use of an obscene taunt to label those you dislike finishes the job.
      • 8 Months Ago
      As long as the bio fuel isn't a food crop, I'm all for it.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Humans are omnivores, and can eat a vast array of plants, fungi, and animals, and their derivatives. There's no rational, fact-based reason to arbitrarily rule out edible biomass sources for fuel production, because there is no world food shortage (quite the contrary), and there's enormous untapped slack capacity in the world agricultural sector permitting a huge increase in production for biofuel without at all affecting food availability.

        "Food vs. fuel" is one of the main lies the oil cartel uses to preserve its fragile and unnecessary monopoly over our transportation sector - don't be a fooled by them.
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