Finally, a Garbage-to-Energy Scheme That Might Actually Work

Wednesday, June 1, 2011 - 17:00 in Mathematics & Economics

That's a Lot of Garbage Montreal-based Enerkem wants to turn all this waste into ethanol. Ropable via WikimediaDo big investments from an oil refiner and a trash hauler mean Enerkem is close to cracking the code? Burning garbage to make fuel--on its face, anyhow--seems like a win-win proposition, but the chemical arithmetic has never really added up to a winning proposition. Nonetheless, a major energy supplier and a big time trash hauler are both finding value in Montreal-based Enerkem. Today the company announced that oil refiner Valero and sanitation giant Waste Management are pumping a combined $60 million into the company, whose technology turns old utility poles and household garbage into ethanol. Like many energy start-ups, Enerkem isn't exactly established just yet--the company is just getting underway at a plant near Sherbrooke, Quebec, that the company claims will produce 1.3 million gallons of ethanol annually. The infusion of cash should help the...

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