Edmonton waste-to-biofuel facility first to qualify for US renewable fuel standard

Image: Enerkem Inc.

Enerkem Inc.'s Edmonton solid waste-to-cellulosic ethanol plant has become the first such plant to receive registration approval from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to sell its ethanol under the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

The advanced biofuels facility, recently expanded to produce some 13 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol annually following the commissioning of its methanol-to-ethanol conversion unit, has successfully completed all the necessary steps required by the EPA, said Montreal-based Enerkem.

"With this EPA approval, we are now able to sell one of the lowest-carbon transportation fuels into the world's largest biofuels market," Vincent Chornet, president and chief executive officer of Enerkem, said in a statement.

"This provides further validation of Enerkem's leading position in the global race to decarbonizing the transportation fuel sector, which is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions."

The Edmonton biofuel plant converts non-recyclable municipal solid waste into methanol, ethanol and other widely used chemical intermediates as an alternative to landfilling and incineration. The facility has been financed by private sources and received funding support from Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), Alberta Innovates and Alberta Energy.

The EPA's rigorous registration process seeks to ensure that the stringent regulatory requirements of the U.S. RFS are met. Enerkem is now registered for D3 Renewable identification numbers (RINs) credits. These RIN credits are purchased by U.S. refiners to comply with the U.S. RFS program. The EPA has established that cellulosic biofuels reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 60 per cent when compared to gasoline.

Under the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act, 16 billion gallons of cellulosic biofuels are to be blended in the conventional transportation fuel pool by 2022.

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