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Non-homogeneous residual feedstocks to biofuels and chemicals via the methanol route


This paper discusses the thermal conversion of non-homogeneous residual biomass from urban wastes as well as from forest and agricultural operations into an ultrapure syngas used for the thermo-catalytic synthesis of methanol. The latter is a commodity/building block for subsequent synthesis of fuels and chemicals. This paper focuses on the feedstock choices made by Enerkem and on its conversion technology which embraces staged gasification, syngas conditioning and conversion of syngas into methanol and of the latter into ethanol. The fundamental concepts that have led to the development of the technology are the result of a joint R&D experimental effort between the Université de Sherbrooke, Enerkem and the Edmonton Waste Management Center of Excellence. The technology has been scaled up, from 2009 to 2011, and production of biomethanol using 1.5 tonnes/h of feed (dry basis) is ongoing at Enerkem's demonstration plant in Westbury (Québec) since June 2011. The conversion of the produced biomethanol into bioethanol has been proven at bench scale level, and we foresee the latter to be piloted in the first half of 2012. Based on the results of the demonstration, Enerkem is erecting a 100,000-tonne/year commercial plant in Edmonton. It will use secondary recovered fuel from the mechanical biological treatment process already implemented at the Edmonton Waste Management Center. Production of methanol is initially targeted for 2013.

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One of the authors (JML) acknowledges the financial support of the sponsors of the Industrial Chair in Cellulosic Ethanol: Quebec's government (MRNF), Greenfield Ethanol, CRB Innovations and Enerkem Inc. As well, Enerkem acknowledges co-funding from partners in the Edmonton project: the City of Edmonton and Alberta Innovates—Energy and Environment Solutions, as well as from the partners in the Westbury demonstration project: Sustainable Development Technologies Canada and the Bioenergy programme of the Ministère des Ressources Naturelles et de la Faune (MRNF) du Québec.

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Correspondence to Jean-Michel Lavoie.

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Lavoie, JM., Marie-Rose, S. & Lynch, D. Non-homogeneous residual feedstocks to biofuels and chemicals via the methanol route. Biomass Conv. Bioref. 3, 39–44 (2013).

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  • Biofuels
  • Biomass
  • Gasification
  • Methanol
  • Ethanol
  • MSW