Thursday, June 5, 2014

From waste to biofuels

Edmonton goes on record as the world's first municipality opting to go this route. If this is really as good and as feasible as it appears to be, why not adopt the idea all over Canada?

Kim Magi writing at EdmontonJournal:
....The world’s first municipal facility to convert household garbage into biofuels opened Wednesday at the Edmonton Waste Management Centre. It’s expected that by 2016, 90 per cent of the city’s waste will be diverted out of the landfill due to this new facility. Currently, Edmonton recycles and composts 60 per cent of its waste.

Q: How does it work?

A: Enerkem, the Quebec-based company that owns the plant, will handle the operations, with the city supplying 100,000 tonnes of sorted municipal waste that can’t be recycled or composted. This material is “a mixture of non-recyclable plastics, non-recyclable fibre, there’s wood, there’s even such things as shingles — that gets shredded down and that’s what we are fed with,” said Vincent Chornet, CEO of Enerkem. From there, the waste is converted into gas, and then again into liquid methanol.

Q: What can’t be used in the process?

A: About 10 per cent of the material going to the plant will be left over. Items like metal, ceramics and glass can’t be converted into methanol and will be taken to the landfill.

Q: What will the biofuels be used for?

A: One common use of methanol is windshield washer fluid, because it doesn’t freeze. It’s also a building block for other chemicals. A large portion will be purchased by a local chemical company that produces products for the forestry sector, said Jim Schubert, director business planning and business operations for the City of Edmonton. “Ethanol, is commonly used as a blend for gasoline,” he said. “It’s mandated in Alberta to have a five per cent ethanol blend, so it will more likely be sold to one of the refineries nearby and be used to power your vehicle.”

Q: How much will this cost Edmontonians?

A: There is almost no difference in cost to the current operation. Currently, the city is paying $70 per tonne to transport and landfill waste. The new system costs $75 per tonne. “So for approximately the same cost we’re going to be turning that material into something useful instead of storing it in a landfill for future generations,” Schubert said........

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