Shell buys into waste-to-fuels plant in Québec

Article by Adam Duckett

SHELL is taking a 40% stake in a Canadian plant that will use Enerkem’s processing technology to convert domestic waste and wood waste into chemicals and fuels.

Enerkem announced in December that it would build a C$875m (US$697m) commercial-scale plant in Varennes, Québec, with the first phase scheduled for commissioning in 2023. Once complete, the gasification plant will convert 200,000 t/y of waste into around 125m L of fuel. Separately, Hydro-Québec is investing C$200m in a neighbouring 90 MW electrolyser, that will use hydroelectric power to split water. This will produce around 11,000 t/y of hydrogen and 88,000 t/y of oxygen for use in the Varennes waste-to-fuels process.

Enerkem’s proprietary process involves first sorting, shredding and drying the waste. The waste is then passed to a bubbling fluidised bed gasification vessel where it is thermally cracked and reacted with steam to produce a syngas. It is passed through scrubbing towers to clean the syngas and then catalytically converted to methanol and ethanol.

Other partners in the project include methanol and ammonia producer Proman, and oils sands developer Suncor.

The plant is the fourth that Enerkem has under development. It has a 100,000 t/y waste processing facility being commissioned in Edmonton, Canada; a 360,000 t/y facility awaiting a final investment decision for construction in Rotterdam, The Netherlands; and a 400,000 t/y plant also awaiting investment decision for Tarragona, Spain.

Article by Adam Duckett

Editor, The Chemical Engineer

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