Enerkem, a Canada-based biofuel and biochemical producer, has received approval to build a commercial facility to turn municipal waste into biofuels.
The C$70m plant will be a joint effort with Toronto-based GreenField Ethanol, Canada's leading ethanol producer, and is the first of its type in North America.
"This unprecedented project is set to change the dynamics of the waste and fuel industries by making waste that would otherwise be landfilled a resource for transportation fuels,” said Vincent Chornet, chief executive of Enerkem.
Waste will be used to create synthetic gas and then catalysts will be used to convert the gas into ethanol, methanol, diesel or a variety of high-value biochemicals, such as acetic acid or acetate.
In 2008, Enerkem and the City of Edmonton entered into a 25-year agreement to build and operate a waste-to-biofuels facility on municipal land and to receive the City's sorted municipal solid waste as feedstock.
Edmonton will sort 200,000 tons of its waste, removing recyclables and compostables before giving the remaining 100,000 tons to Enerkem. The project is expected to increase the city's waste diversion rate from 60 percent to 90 percent.
Edmonton will also contributing C$20m to the project.
Construction is scheduled to begin by year's end. The facility will initially produce 36 million litres (9.5 million gallons) of ethanol per year, reducing Alberta's carbon dioxide (CO2) footprint by more than six million tons over the next 25 years.