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Canada invests in waste-to-fuel study for Indigenous and Northern Communities

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The Government of Canada recently announced it was providing $95,000 in financial support to the Aurora Research Institute, in association with Delta Enterprises, a Gwitch’in owned company, to study the potential of converting waste cardboard into pellets as biomass feedstock for heating homes and businesses throughout Inuvik.

Northern communities are looking at ways to reduce their reliance on diesel for heating and electricity by increasing the use of local renewable energy sources and improving energy efficiency.  The goal of the project is to eventually build a facility that will take up to 60 per cent of the community’s cardboard bound for the landfill and instead, recycle it into heating pellets, thereby supplementing Inuvik’s biomass pellet supply and reducing reliance on fossil fuels used for heating.

Converting the cardboard to pellets and then burning the pellets to generate heat and electricity results in lower greenhouse gas emissions than disposing of the cardboard in landfill.

By supporting an emerging northern biomass industry, the Government wants to create local jobs, transition to clean energy and keep investments in the North by using local resources and building a regional economy. This will support healthier, more sustainable communities, across the North.

The funding for the study is through the Northern Responsible Energy Approach for Community Heat and Electricity program (Northern REACHE).  This investment is part of Canada’s nearly $700 million commitment to help rural and remote communities get off diesel, through programs delivered by Natural Resources Canada and Infrastructure Canada.

Waste-to-Fuel Facility planned near Medicine Hat, Alberta

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Canada’s Cielo Waste Solutions Corp. (CNSX:CMC and OTCQB: CWSFF) recently announced that its joint-venture (JV) partner had found a suitable location for their facility that will be designed to convert waste into renewable fuels.

The JV partner, Renewable U Medicine Hat Inc., has secured an agreement in principle to purchase 32.4 hectares of land in Cypress County, Alberta. The land is situated within the approximately 3-kilometres from the town of Medicine Hat.

Renewable U Medicine Hat has also informed Cielo that is has funding in place to close the purchase and sale agreement, subject to numerous conditions, before or on July 1, 2020, the waste-to-fuel company said.

The planned facility will be engineered to grind multiple waste feedstocks and convert them into renewable fuels that can be blended into conventional highway transportation, marine and aviation fuels.  It is estimated that the cost to build and commission the facility will be $50 million.

Initial production output is seen at 32.7 million litres of renewable fuels per year on 65,000 tonnes/year of feedstock. The partners contemplate to keep the facility running for 341 days a year.

Cielo expects the construction phase to employ around 50 to 70 people. Once the production starts, the facility will provide some 25 full-time jobs, the company said.

About Cielo Waste Solutions Corp.

CIELO Waste Solutions Corp. is a publicly traded company with its shares listed to trade on the Canadian Securities Exchange (“CSE”) under the symbol “CMC”, as well as OTC Markets Group, on the OTCQB, under the symbol “CWSFF”.  CIELO’s technology transforms landfill garbage into renewable high-grade diesel and aviation jet fuel. CIELO’s proven and patent-pending technology is currently being deployed in the Company’s Aldersyde, Alberta Renewable Diesel Facility, where wood waste is currently being converted into renewable fuels.

Florida company claims breakthrough in turning waste to hydrogen fuel

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A Florida-based waste-to-fuel company, Standard Hydrogen Company Inc., recently announced that it had made a technology breakthrough and that it had a patented process that could produce inexpensive hydrogen from waste.  The company markets itself as an innovative, breakthrough company that developed and patented technology to economically split hydrogen sulfide into pure hydrogen and sulfur.

“We make pollution-free hydrogen and we clean the environment while doing it,” said Alan Mintzer, Standard Hydrogen CEO in a news release. “This innovation turns trash into clean burning fuel, but more importantly it also cleans up most forms of pollution around the world.”

Description of the Technology

The development of the technology is embodied in United States Patent 9290386B2 (Hydrogen sulfide conversion to hydrogen).  The patent describes a method of reacting hydrogen sulfide with a catalyst at a temperature up to 700 degrees Celsius.  The hydrogen sulfide is converted to sulfur and hydrogen.

In the description of its technology, the company uses plastic waste as an example.  Plastic waste, comprised mainly of hydrogen and carbon atoms, is mixed with hot sulfur.  The hydrogen in the plastic combines with the sulfur to generate hydrogen sulfide (H2S).  The hydrogen sulfide is subsequently turned into hydrogen and sulfur.  The hydrogen can be used as a fuel and the sulfur is reused in the process or sold as an industrial grade product.  The entire process is exothermic (meaning it generates heat).  The company claims its technology requires no precious metal catalysts and requires little to no maintenance.

The company claims its process is different than other ones such as the Claus process.  The Claus process is an energy-intensive process used that destroys the hydrogen sulfide, recovers the sulfur but not the hydrogen.  Standard Hydrogen claims the process is low cost and that no air emissions are generated.

Further Development

The company CEO claims that technology could easily convert organic waste streams (i.e., plastic, biomass, paper, source-separated organics, textiles) into hydrogen.  It also claims it has proven the science behind the patented technology and determined it can economically produce hydrogen from hydrogen sulfide.

The company stated it is will do more research and development through mid-2020 while seeking additional joint venture partners to complete the engineering phase of the technology roll out.  Standard Hydrogen is targeting the first quarter of 2021 to have a commercial reactor at a pilot plant.

 

 

Tire-Derived Fuels Making Inroads in Canada

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Written by Jonathan D. Cocker, Baker McKenzie

Following some recent key milestones for the tire-derived fuels industries, it appears that TDF is now positioned for significant growth across Canada in the coming years.  It hasn’t been easy in light of long-standing environmental concerns and pressures for circular economy solutions for end-of-life tires but TDF may well be poised to gain ready acceptance as part of Canada’s resource recovery strategy.

Nova Scotia Legal Challenge Unsuccessful

The watershed moment for TDF in Canada arguably came in 2018.  The Province of Nova Scotia first approved TDF as a supplemental energy source for a cement plant facility in Brookfield, Nova Scotia in 2017 on a 12-month pilot project basis.

In so doing, the ministry relied, in part, on a detailed environment study conducted for the proponent by Dalhousie University which compared the greenhouse gas emissions from TDF-supplemented fuels favourably against existing the coal sources.  The report was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada, giving it further clout.

Local residents challenged the ministry’s approval on environmental and procedural grounds – both of which were rejected in a March 2018 decision.  This allowed the proponent to commission the pilot project by August 2019, with a daily consumption rate of 20 metric tonnes of whole tires.

Brookfield Emissions Results Likely Critical to Industry Aspirations

The last hurdle to a full scale commercial TDF-fuel additive kiln at Brookfield will, of course, be the resulting emissions, concerns about which have long-plagued the industry.  Both the proponent and an independent group from Dalhousie will be collecting and reporting on a wide range of emissions data to the ministry, with a first planned public release of certain emissions information set for early in 2020.

It is difficult to overstate the importance that these results will have on the TDF industry across Canada.  There remains substantial opposition to TDF-usage in any application, including cement, and a failure to meet the emissions conditions for the pilot project approval will likely mean a further moratorium on project development, further placing the TDF industry behind other resource recovery technologies and processes.

Ontario Permits Waste Rubber Fuel Source in 2019

The battleground over TDF is far from new in Ontario.  In 2011, a group of community interests, including none other than Gord Downie, successfully opposed the use of TDF at a cement production facility in Bath, Ontario.  The proponent subsequently revised its alternate fuel sourcing plans to include two low carbon fuel categories (LCFs), which have since been subject to emissions testing for a number of years.

Of these categories, “LCF 3” includes:

“Non-recyclable rubber, rubber recycling by-products (including polyester/nylon fibre from tire recycling facilities) and non-recyclable plastics.”

An amended environmental approval was granted to the proponent in August 2019 to augment the alternative feedstock to include the principal LCF 3 materials, thereby allowing rubber waste material (with its superb BTU values) to be included with lower carbon and less energy-rich materials, including various biomass sources.  A graduated approach, which does not preclude moving to TDF as the market conditions evolve.

TDF Established Practice Elsewhere

It is also worth noting that the current disputes over TDF come against a backdrop of established TDF usage in heavy industry elsewhere, including in the cement industries of the United States and Europe.

Further, the provinces of Quebec and British Columbia have long permitted TDF in cement production facilities, though none has been approved recently (in the circular economy era).  Finally, there are other materials whose fuel usage is also contentious, such as roofing shingles, telephone poles, used oils and plastics, which have also been approved for cement production in Canada.  TDF does not, in fact, have a unique environmental legacy.

TDF may remain a lightning rod for industries such as cement production, but recent developments suggest that rapid expansion of TDF usage may be near, particularly following a successful pilot project.  It may also be that the coming regulated circular economy regimes across Canada will, ironically, contribute to TDF growth with privatized and non-prescriptive EPR obligations that may allow producers to economically benefit from TDF resource recovery.

This article has been republished with the permission of the author. It was first published on the Baker McKenzie Environmental Law Insights website.


About the Author

Jonathan D. Cocker heads Baker McKenzie’s Environmental Practice Group in Canada and is an active member of the firm’s Global Consumer Goods & Retail and Energy, Mining and Infrastructure groups. Mr. Cocker provides advice and representation to multinational companies on a variety of environmental and product compliance matters, including extended producer responsibilities, dangerous goods transportation, GHS, regulated wastes, consumer product and food safety, and contaminated lands matters. He assisted in the founding of one of North America’s first Circular Economy Producer Responsibility Organizations and provides advice and representation to a number of domestic and international industry groups in respect of resource recovery obligations. Mr. Cocker was recently appointed the first Sustainability Officer of the International Bar Association.

Italian companies developing waste to fuel technology

Eni, a large energy company headquartered in Italy, recently signed an agreement with NextChem, Maire Tecnimont’s green chemistry subsidiary headquartered in Italy, to collaborate on the development of a technology that can turn waste into new energy, hydrogen, and methanol.

The two companies have signed a partnership agreement to develop and implement a conversion technology, which uses high-temperature gasification to produce hydrogen and methanol from municipal solid waste and non-recyclable plastic with minimal environmental impact.

Together, Eni and NextChem will assess the technical and financial impact of the new technology, which could be implemented at Eni’s industrial sites in Italy. Eni has already expressed interest in evaluating the “Waste to Hydrogen” project at its bio-refinery in Porto Marghera, Venice, and carried out a feasibility study in collaboration with NextChem.

The agreement will position Eni as co-developer of NextChem’s technology. This will contribute to environmental sustainability at Eni’s industrial sites, forming part of an increasingly integrated and efficient system designed to contain and reduce atmospheric emissions of CO².

“This partnership will see Eni acquire highly innovative technology. When this technology is combined with the rich technological assets that Eni has accumulated over decades of refining, it will help to establish a tangible circular economic process whereby fuel is produced from waste with low environmental impact”, said Giuseppe Ricci, Eni’s Chief Refining & Marketing Officer.

Maire Tecnimont Group’s CEO, Pierroberto Folgiero, stated: “This technological partnership with Eni, a leader in the sector, is an exceptionally important step for our green acceleration project. Energy transition requires the industrialisation of new transformation processes, and with NextChem we are ready to respond to the growing demand for change”.

Environmental Activist Organization oppose all forms for thermal treatment for waste

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Written by John Nicholson, M.Sc., P.Eng., Editor

In a recent response to the Ontario Environment Ministry’s Reducing Litter and Waste in Our Communities: Discussion Draft, a coalition of seven environmental activist organization spelled out their opposition of thermal treatment in all its forms as a means for managing waste in Canada.

With respect to thermal treatment of waste, the letter reads:

In our view, all forms of thermal treatment (e.g. waste incineration, energy-from-waste (EFW) facilities, pyrolosis, plasma gasification, industrial burning of waste as “alternative fuel”, etc.) should not be considered as diversion measures. Instead, these kinds of projects are – and must remain closely regulated as – waste disposal activities under Ontario’s environmental laws.

The coalition of environmental activist organization that signed the letter are as follows: the Canadian Environmental Law Association, the Citizens’ Network on Waste Management, the Grand River Environmental Network, the Toronto Environmental Alliance, Environment Hamilton, hej!support, and the Citizens Environment Alliance.

The opposition by these organization to all forms of thermal treatment of waste should be discouraging news to companies that have developed innovative thermal treatment technologies and advanced air pollution control technologies. It means that there will be continued pressure for more lengthy and costly permitting processes across the country.

The letter should also be discouraging to companies that utilize waste as feedstock in the production of recycled products. In the letter, the authors state that they reject alternative or streamlined environmental approvals process for proven technologies that recover value from waste. In the view of the authors, there is no “red tape” that needs to be cut when it comes to the environmental approval process.

Proponents and involved in the environmental approvals process in Ontario for innovative waste management technologies including waste-to-fuel, waste-to-products, and waste-to-energy often complain about the byzantine, expensive, and lengthy approvals process in Ontario compared to other North American jurisdictions.

As an environmental professional with over 25 years of experience working in Ontario, I see innovative environmental technologies that are being development to help with the waste management problems facing Canadians. I have also seen my share of bad actors and snake oil salesman that have hurt the environment industry.

I believe there is a need for environmental activist organizations and proponents of innovative waste technologies to become educated about each others concerns in an effort to bridge the divide that appears to exist to the environmental risks associated with various technologies.

Enerkem secures $76.3 million in financing

Quebec-based Enerkem Inc., a global company specializing in producing biofuels waste, recently announced the closing of a new round of financing totaling C$76.3 million. The financing comes from Enerkem’s existing investors, as well as a new investor, Suncor Energy Inc.

This injection of additional capital will help foster the company’s growth by continuing the development of its other projects, including in Varennes, Québec, and Rotterdam, Holland.

Suncor, one of Canada’s largest energy companies, is joining Enerkem’s shareholders, comprising Braemar Energy Ventures, Cycle Capital, Fondaction, Fonds de solidarité FTQ, Investissement Québec, National Bank of Canada, Rho Ventures, Sunkem, the Westly Group and Waste Management of Canada. In addition to its equity interest, Suncor will share technical resources to support acceleration of Enerkem’s growth.

Similarly, as part of this financing, the Government of Québec has increased its equity ownership in Enerkem by $13.3 million through the Fonds du développement économique.

“We are now in a period of sustained growth and beginning a landmark phase of our technology’s implementation, with the expected launch of our Varennes plant and our Rotterdam project,” said Dominique Boies, President and CEO (acting) and Chief Financial Officer, Enerkem. “Thanks to a strong core of public and private investors, Enerkem has developed a clean, one-of-a-kind technology for commercial use. We are proud of also having the Government of Québec’s support to be able to pursue our development projects in an emerging and promising sector that is helping to build the new economy.”

About Enerkem
Enerkem produces advanced biofuels and renewable chemicals from waste. Its proprietary technology converts non-recyclable municipal solid waste into methanol, ethanol and other widely used chemical intermediates. Headquartered in Montréal, Québec, Canada, Enerkem employs over 200 people. The company operates a full-scale commercial facility in Alberta, as well as an innovation centre in Québec. Enerkem’s facilities are built as prefabricated systems based on the company’s modular manufacturing infrastructure that can be deployed globally.

New Waste-to-Fuel Technologies from Finland and Japan

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Two international companies recently showcased their respective waste-to-fuel technologies at a seminar held in Thailand and arranged by the Waste-to-Energy Trade Association.

BMH Technology of Finland promotes its waste-to-energy system as a high-quality substitute for fossil fuels, while Japan’s Hokuto Kogyo Company uses a hydrothermal technique to decompose waste. The two companies Wednesday presented at a seminar on the latest waste-management technologies, arranged by Waste-to-Energy Trade Association.

Kristian Batisto, business development engineer of BMH Technology, said his company’s high-tech waste-to-fuel process, can transform a wide variety of materials – including mixed municipal solid waste (MSW), commercial waste and industrial waste – into high-quality solid recovered fuel (SRF). That fuel, when burned, can generate high heat and energy, he said.

The company frames SRF as a “premium-grade waste fuel”, of a much higher quality for industrial use or for generating electricity than ordinary waste fuel or refuse derived fuel (RDF). The breakthrough lies in the additional processing that the input waste of SRF must go through to improve the quality and value of the output product.

The incoming waste must pass through many stages of processing by a “Tyrannosaurus” machine that gradually pulls out non-combustible materials such as glass and metal and then shreds the remaining combustible materials to create the solid recovered fuel output. That output can then be used as a fuel to power many kinds of industrial uses as well as electricity generation.

One key component of the Tyrannosaurus machine is  the MIPS® (Massive Impact Protection System).  With MIPS, the shredder spits out large pieces of metal that cannot be crushed automatically. Therefore there will be no damage to the shredder and the process line will not stop for any long periods of time. With the MIPS® system, no one has to take items out of the shredder which ensures a high safety level to the workers and longevity of the equipment.

“Compared to fossil fuels such as coal and oil, or even normal RDF, the SRF output from Tyrannosaurus not only has high calorific value and constant fuel quality, but it also emits very low pollution and greenhouse gases,” Batisto said.

TYRANNOSAURUS® Waste refining process example

“As our waste-processing system can efficiently separate out polluted substances within the input waste, only combustible waste is processed into SRF. It will emit a very small amount of pollution and greenhouse gases and meet the safe standards for dioxins and carbon dioxide.”

Batisto said many countries in the European Union as well as China, South Korea and India have already adopted this waste-to-fuel technology. The installation cost for a Tyrannosaurus waste processing system was around 3 million euros ($4.5 million Cdn.).

 

Japan’s Hokuto Kogyo company representative, Yasuno Tamio, previewed its hydrothermal treatment technology at the Thailand seminar.  Hokuto Kogyo claims it can transform the structure of waste by processing it in water at a very high temperature and under high pressure to turn it into useful materials – waste fuel and bioplastic.

Bioplastic are plastics created from biomass such as using wood powder or corn starch and are considered biodegradable.  The company claims the bioplastic is much safer for the environment, than plastic manufactured from petroleum hydrocarbons for a number of reasons including the lifecycle CO2 footprint.

Tamio said the technology could efficiently transform and detoxify waste, making it suitable for treating hazardous wastes such as infectious waste from hospitals. The hydrothermal technology process also generates no air pollution because no burning is involved.

Hokuto Kogyu claims its hydrothermal technology generates no dioxins and zero carbon dioxide (as there is no burning processes).  The resulting product can be utilized as an alternative fuel to coal.

Enerkem producing diesel fuel alternative from waste

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 Enerkem Inc. (www.enerkem.com), a waste-to-biofuels and chemicals producer, recently announced it has successfully produced a clean, renewable bio-dimethyl ether (Bio-DME), a by-product of biomethanol, that could help address global climate change efficiently by replacing the use of diesel fuel in the transportation sector.

Using the company’s proprietary thermochemical technology, its innovation group has tested and validated the production of fuel-grade bio-DME made from unrecoverable carbon-rich municipal solid waste. More than 1,000 hours of operations at its Innovation Centre in Westbury, Quebec have been completed.

Workers at Enerkem’s Edmonton Facility

While Enerkem is currently focused on the commercial production of biomethanol and advanced ethanol as sustainable biofuels replacing gasoline, this new development reaffirms the company’s continued innovation leadership as well as having the potential to expand the company’s biofuels business for the transportation sector.

“Diesel fuels are three times more polluting than a waste-derived DME-based fuel”, said Dr. Stéphane Marie-Rose, Director of Enerkem’s Innovation Centre in Westbury. “According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Climate Change Synthesis report, more than seven gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent are attributed to the transportation sector globally. By replacing diesel fuel with a clean, renewable bio-based fuel alternative, such as bio-DME, we could significantly and instantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Bio-DME offers a 20% higher cetane rating on average than diesel or bio-diesel fuels (cetane rating is to diesel engine what octane rating is to gasoline engine). Moreover, DME combustion does not produce sulfur oxide (SOx) or fine particles, and it contributes to lower emissions from other harmful residual pollutants such as nitrogen oxides (NOx) that are mainly produced from the combustion of fossil-based fuels.

In addition to the various environmental and economic advantages, there are many possible applications for waste-derived bio-DME fuel. For example, it could be used to replace diesel fuels used in cars, trucks, trains or even ships, while providing better, cleaner combustion.

Enerkem intends to further develop and optimize this latest innovation while evaluating its potential commercial applications.

About Enerkem

Enerkem produces advanced biofuels and renewable chemicals from waste. Its disruptive proprietary technology converts non-recyclable, non-compostable municipal solid waste into methanol, ethanol and other widely-used chemicals. Headquartered in Montreal (QC), Canada, Enerkem operates a full-scale commercial facility in Alberta as well as an innovation centre in Quebec. Enerkem’s facilities are built as prefabricated systems based on the company’s modular manufacturing infrastructure that can be deployed globally. Enerkem’s technology is a prime example of how a true circular economy can be achieved by diversifying the energy mix and by making everyday products greener while offering a smart, sustainable alternative to landfilling and incineration.