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Race for Water is continuing its commitment and heading back out for a 5-year expedition around the world, at the service of science and energy transition. R4W Estimated Route. Instrument panel. The Edmonton facility converts , t of municipal waste annually to 36 million L of ethanol. Not only has Enerkem used catalysts suitable for its waste-to-energy technology, but the firm has also successfully removed nearly all the CO 2 from syngas so it can more easily make methanol and ethanol, he says.
Chornet, also a chemical engineer, joined in to help demonstrate the technology at a commercial scale. Enerkem now has employees and has attracted funding from investors such as the Canadian energy firm Suncor Energy, Waste Management of Canada, and the venture capital firm Braemar Energy Ventures.
They include a waste-to-methanol project planned for Rotterdam, the Netherlands, with partners Air Liquide, Nouryon, the Port of Rotterdam, and Shell and a project to convert waste to ethanol in Minneapolis. Prices for the fuels and chemicals coming out of these plants will have to go through a few economic cycles before experts come to a verdict.
Even then, he says, gasification firms may need additional policy help, such as a federal carbon tax, to make the economics work. Related: Ethanol from trashy sources advances. These are interesting times for the municipal solid waste industry, Simmons points out. The sector is dealing with an increasing amount of difficult-to-recycle plastics because China stopped accepting such waste 2 years ago.
As once-exported low-value trash builds up, waste handlers are finding it difficult to acquire permits for landfills in densely populated parts of the US, he says. In those places, landfill fees are rising, and municipalities are looking to alternatives such as gasification. The facility now under construction will treat about , t of sludge annually from a nearby sewage-processing plant when it starts up in Aries will gasify the sludge into syngas that will fuel electrical generators for plant operations.
Biochar left over will go to concrete makers as a substitute for fly ash.
Aries operates a slightly different gasification system in Lebanon, Tennessee, that processes a combination of woody biomass and sludge from a nearby sewage plant. California is attractive to firms like Aries because the state requires utilities to pay premium prices for electricity generated from biomass, says Frederick Tornatore, chief technical officer at TSS Consultants.
Some of the fuel is destined for California. The firm already has jet fuel contracts with Southwest Airlines and FedEx.
Kulesa is also talking with chemical firms interested in buying the bioderived naphtha that the Lakeview facility will make. RRB will upgrade the hydrocarbons to jet fuel, diesel, and naphtha using hydroprocessing technology from Haldor Topsoe. Using proven technology providers will allow his firm to ultimately make a profit, Kulesa says.
RRB has two more wood-to-fuel plants on the drawing board, and he expects raising funds will get easier once the Lakeview facility is up and running.
Because of its makeup and oxygen content, biomass is a more complex feedstock than natural gas or even coal, Zabeti says. When gasified, it is likely to form tar, which interferes with syngas formation. Also, removing impurities such as sulfur and nitrogen oxides is complex and costly, he points out. Even with technology improvements, governments may need to impose a price on carbon to make waste-based fuels competitive with their petroleum-based counterparts, he says.
Ultimately, the goal is to divert as much biomass from landfills as possible while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Castaldi remains bullish. Gasification developers are improving syngas purification and cleanup techniques, he says. Also, municipalities are getting better at collecting and separating waste into streams that can be easily gasified to extract their energy and carbon content.
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