Conversion of MSW and cellulosic materials to methanol/ethanol via gasification and synthesis

Enerkem commercial-scale production of ethanol from MSW via gasification

In June 2014, Enerkem inaugurated its commercial MSW-to-ethanol facility in Edmonoton, Canada. Enerkem, through its affiliate Enerkem Alberta Biofuels, signed a 25-year agreement with the City of Edmonton to build and operate the plant that will produce and sell next-generation biofuels from non-recyclable and non-compostable municipal solid waste (MSW).  Sorted MSW is shredded and then fed into a gasifier, where heat and pressure create syngas, which is then cleaned and conditioned prior to catalytic conversion to methanol and ethanol.  With a production capacity of 38 million litres per year (10 million gallons per year), the Enerkem Alberta Biofuels facility is the world's first major collaboration of its kind between a metropolitan centre and a waste-to-biofuels producer.

Initially, the plant will convert syngas to methanol. In 2015, a methanol-to-ethanol conversion unit will be added.

In November 2014, Enerkem announced a partnership with AkzoNobel to exploe the potential for producing biochemicals from waste in Europe.


In April 2012 BioGasol announced a partnership with Sweetwater Energy Inc., who will integrate the BioGasol pretreatment technology (Carbofrac™) into its systems to maximise sugar production from non-food biomass.

The BioGasol process converts straw and other lignoicellulosic agricultural residues into ethanol, biogas, hydrogen and solid fuel with minimum use of water and low production costs. The process features a thermochemical pretreatment and a unique fermentation process based on proprietary microbes, which convert both C6 and C5 sugars to ethanol. In March 2009, the Danish Energy Agency (ENS) Energy Technology Development and Demonstration Program (EUDP) awarded BioGasOl grant of 10.5 M Euros for the BornBioFuel2 demonstration plant on on Bornholm Island, using 27000 tonnes of dry feedstock to produce 7 Mio litres of ethanol per annum.

Pentoferm™ is BioGasol’s proprietary technology that optimizes the utilization of C5 sugars. Pentoferm™ enables the conversion of C5 sugars into ethanol using the thermophilic bacterium Pentocrobe™. With Pentoferm™ it is possible to achieve up to 40 percent higher ethanol yield from 1 tonne of biomass.

BioGasol previously formed a partnership wth Pacific Ethanol Inc to build the West Coast Biorefinery, in which BioGasol's technology was to be integrated with an existing corn-based bioethanol plant. The project was co-financed by the US DoE. The plant capacity was 5.8 tonnes of dry feedstock per hour (straw, hybrid poplar and cornstover), and aimed to produce 10 Mio litres of ethanol per year.

Range Fuels Two-Step Process

Also in the US, the Range Fuels Inc process uses heat, pressure and steam to convert cellulosic feedstocks (e.g. wood, grasses and corn stover) into syngas. In a second step the gas is passed over a proprietary catalyst to produce ethanol or methanol.