Rising Alt Fuels Player Driven By Waste
Montreal-based Enerkem holds a proprietary technology that uses solid waste as a feedstock for the production of low-cost biofuels. The company last week filed with the SEC for a $125 million IPO, betting that it can compete with established cellulosic ethanol producers, whose more expensive fuel is derived from food crops:
Rather than rely on enzymes that must be tuned to break down specific forms of biomass, the 12-year-old company relies on heat and seeks out garbage – basically, a mix of residual municipal solid waste that can’t be recycled or composted. This can range from sneakers and soiled paper plates to shredded electricity poles and construction debris, which would otherwise be dumped in landfills.
At its most basic level, the company sorts, shreds and uses temperatures of around 700 degrees Celsius to gasify the waste materials. The resulting “syngas,” which must be cleaned and conditioned, then goes through a catalytic conversion process that eventually creates fuel-grade ethanol.