Nova and Enerkem Link on Waste-to-Ethylene Technology

14.05.2020 -

Canadian companies Nova Chemicals and Enerkem have entered into an agreement to explore turning non-recyclable and non-compostable municipal waste into ethylene.

The firms will work together to research advanced recycling technology to transform hard-to-recycle municipal waste, such as plastic, household waste and construction materials, into the chemical feedstock.

Nova Chemicals’ president and CEO Todd Karran said the research is one way the company can capture the value of plastic products and create a world free of plastic waste. The Calgary-headquartered group has pledged to enable 100% of plastics packaging is recyclable or recoverable by 2030, and 100% of plastics packaging is re-used, recycled or recovered by 2040.

Peter Nieuwenhuizen, Enerkem’s vice president of technology strategy & development, said it has built a robust gasification platform to turn waste and biomass into fuels and chemicals with high carbon efficiency. The company added that it was the first in the world to produce renewable methanol and ethanol from non-recyclable, non-compostable municipal solid waste at full commercial scale.

The Canadian cleantech firm is currently engaged in several projects to turn waste into valuable feedstocks. Together with the City of Edmonton, it has built the world’s first commercial waste-to-biofuels and chemicals facility in Alberta. The plant is designed to produce 38 million liters per year of biomethanol and cellulosic ethanol.

In Rotterdam, the Netherlands, Enerkem is participating in a consortium that also includes Shell, Air Liquide, Nouryon and the Port of Rotterdam to construct Europe’s first waste-to-chemicals plant, converting up to 360,000 t/y of non-recyclable waste, including plastics, into 220,000 t/y of bio-methanol.

A third project is in Spain under an agreement with Suez. The facility in Tarragona, which could be operational in 2022, will produce 265,000 t/y biomethanol from 400,000 t/y of non-recyclable waste.

Last October, Canadian energy group Sunor invested Can$50 million in Enerkem. Suncor first participated in the ownership of Enerkem in April 2019 as part of a Can$76.3 million equity financing alongside existing shareholders.