MSW to biofuels and chemicals: a commercial reality in Canada
The case of Enerkem and the City of Edmonton
“We are proud that municipalities around the world are looking at the City of Edmonton and the Enerkem facility to see how they too can divert waste from landfill while producing clean fuels and chemicals through this innovative technology.” – Mayor Don Iveson, City of Edmonton, Alberta
In 2009, Enerkem and the City of Edmonton signed a 25-year agreement. The agreement followed a highly competitive global technology review and qualification process in which the City evaluated more than 100 waste diversion technologies and selected Enerkem. “The goal of the City of Edmonton is to achieve 90% waste diversion of the residential stream generated throughout the City. The Enerkem project will allow us to achieve that,” said Roy Neehall from the Edmonton Waste Management Services.
Under the agreement, the City of Edmonton agreed to provide Enerkem with 100,000 dry, prepared and sorted metric tons of non recyclable and non compostable municipal solid waste (MSW) for a 25-year period while Enerkem committed to take the feedstock as well as build and operate a waste-to-biofuels facility in Edmonton.
This full-scale commercial project is considered the first collaboration between a waste-to-biofuels producer and a metropolitan center to address its waste disposal challenge. It is leading the first wave of commercial advanced biofuels facilities in the world while becoming a model for other municipalities, urban and rural, on how to sustainably manage their waste.
Enerkem is currently producing biomethanol at this game-changing facility, which converts the City's MSW into methanol and ethanol by recycling the carbon still contained in the non recyclable and non compostable MSW otherwise destined to landfill. The City is seeking to increase its waste diversion rate from 60% to 90%. Additional biorefineries are currently being developed by the company in North America and globally.
Enerkem is considered the first company to have developed a technology capable of breaking down waste materials that are chemically and structurally heterogeneous and convert them into a pure, chemical-grade, stable and homogeneous syngas. This syngas is then converted into renewable fuels and chemicals which, when produced using Enerkem’s technology, can help reduce carbon dioxide emissions, aid in extended producer responsibility and meet the growing world demand for green chemicals.
Bio: Richard Schofield joined Enerkem in January 2011 as a Senior Process Engineer for Enerkem’s first commercial facility, and the Lead Engineer on their second commercial facility. He is currently the company’s Project Development Manager. Since joining Enerkem, Mr. Schofield has participated on the design of every Enerkem commercial plant, and has led multiple due diligences for investors and government investments. He is also the Quebec Chapter International Board member of the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA).
Prior to Enerkem, Mr. Schofield worked as a process engineer for a consulting firm in the chemical, petrochemical and refining industries, where he acquired both design and operational skills. Mr. Schofield also led the design of the plant upgrade of a corn based ethanol plant in Québec.
Mr. Schofield has a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemical Engineering from Université de Sherbrooke, and a Masters degree in Engineering Management. He is a registered Professional Engineer in the Province of Quebec.