Biofuels and biochemicals technology company Enerkem has announced that its first commercial-scale plant located in Westbury, Quebec, is entering the start-up phase with the production of its clean conditioned synthesis gas.

According to Enerkem, construction on the plant began in October 2007 and the facility was mechanically complete in December 2008. The conditioned synthesis gas (syngas) island has been finalized and is in an advanced commissioning stage in preparation for its upcoming start-up.

The premium syngas island serves as the chemical production platform, from which the methanol and ethanol production modules will be added progressively over the next months, said the company.

Enerkem’s Westbury plant is operated by a team of 13 people and will produce five million liters of second-generation ethanol annually. The Enerkem thermo-chemical process uses one tonne of waste to produce 360 liters of ethanol, enough fuel for a car to travel 2,500km, claims the company.

Vincent Chornet, president and CEO of Enerkem, said: The gas island is the core of our technology platform as it is where we produce a syngas that serves as a chemical source for the production of biofuels and biochemicals.

Enerkem is engaged in the development and production of advanced biofuels and green chemicals. The company is headquartered in Montreal, Quebec, and has engineering offices in Sherbrooke, Quebec. Enerkem’s gasification, sequential gas conditioning and catalysis technology converts sorted municipal solid waste, as well as forest and agricultural residues into second generation transportation fuels and green chemicals.