Enerkem Opens Ethanol Plant, May License Trash-To-Fuel System

Enerkem Inc., the Canadian biofuels maker that withdrew its initial public offering in April, began production at a trash-to-ethanol demonstration plant in Quebec and is considering licensing its technology.

The plant in Westbury is expected to validate the company’s manufacturing process, which will be used at three commercial- scale facilities under construction in Canada and the U.S., Montreal-based Enerkem said today in a statement.

Enerkem converts garbage into gases that are processed into ethanol and chemicals. The company, which is backed by the trash hauler Waste Management Inc. (WM) and the oil refiner Valero Energy Corp. (VLO), is seeking other ways to commercialize its technology, Marie-Helene Labrie, vice president of government affairs and communications, said today in an interview.

“Our first projects focused on the build, own and operate model,” Labrie said. Licensing the trash-to-fuel technology may be “another growth strategy in the future.”

Enerkem’s first commercial plant in Edmonton, Canada, will be completed next year. It’s also building facilities in Pontotoc, Mississippi and Varennes, Quebec, and each will be able to make 38 million liters (10 million gallons) of ethanol a year.

The company withdrew its registration to raise as much as $137.8 million on April 26, citing market conditions.

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