Enerkem starts “drop-in” fuels R&D

May 15, 2013 |

Also, next-gen waste-to-biofuels biofuels pioneer expects to reach commissioning stage by summer at first commercial plant

In Canada, Enerkem announced that the Canadian government will contribute $1.1 million to a project developing new catalytic processes for the conversion of waste into “drop-in” biofuels. These “drop-in” biofuels are fully interchangeable with hydrocarbon fuels, such as conventional gasoline, diesel and jet fuel.

This R&D project will be conducted at Enerkem’s research and development pilot facility in Sherbrooke, Quebec, in collaboration with the University of Sherbrooke. It’s a 3-year research program that will commence by this summer. The focus is just fuels, although Enerkem’s technology produces a chemical-grade synthesis gas that serves as a key intermediate for the production of either renewable fuels and chemicals.

Once the R&D portion of the project is completed, Enerkem will evaluate the technology in terms of deploying at demonstration or commercial scale – leveraging its demonstration plant in Westbury or one of its commercial-scale assets now under construction or development.

Reaction from Canada, Enerkem

“Enerkem’s core business is the commercial production of cellulosic ethanol, and we now intend to take advantage of our flexible technology platform to gradually expand our line of biofuels and chemical products,” said Vincent Chornet, president and CEO of Enerkem.  “This research project is part of our growth strategy and demonstrates our commitment towards innovation and a greener economy.”

“Through the ecoENERGY Innovation Initiative, our Government is investing in innovative clean energy technologies that create jobs, generate new economic opportunities and protect the environment,” said the Honourable Joe Oliver, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources. “This program demonstrates our tangible support for energy projects that drive energy innovation.”

Update on Edmonton

Speaking of commercial-scale, Enerkem spokeswoman Marie-Helene Labrie reports that construction at the company’s first commercial plant in Edmonton is “progressing well”, with “prefabricated modules now being delivered, and 28 employees onsite full-time.”

Construction site of Enerkem Alberta Biofuels facility in Edmonton - May 2013

Construction site of Enerkem Alberta Biofuels facility in Edmonton – May 2013

“Commissioning will begin during the summer, then gradually methanol production will begin later this year, followed by ethanol production in 2014,”  Labrie added.

The 10 million gallon (per year) Edmonton plant is expected to be at full ethanol production capacity in 2015.

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