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FounderEsteban Chornet, Ph.D.
Vincent Chornet
Area served
Key people
Vincent Chornet
(President and CEO) Dominique Boies

Enerkem is a Montreal-based cleantech company. Founded in 2000, the Enerkem technology converts pretreated municipal solid waste into transportation fuels and chemicals.

Manufactured from waste biomass, instead of fossil sources like petroleum and natural gas, Enerkem’s technology produces ethanol and renewable chemicals that are used in a broad range of industrial and consumer applications.

Enerkem owns an innovation centre in Westbury. The company’s first full-scale commercial plant has been under construction in Edmonton, Alberta since 2010.[1] The company has two similar facilities under development in Varennes, Quebec and Rotterdam.

Enerkem is majority-owned by institutional, clean-technology and industrial investors, including Rho Ventures, Waste Management, Braemar Energy Ventures, Investissement Québec, Valero, Cycle Capital, BlackRock, Sinobioway Group, The Westly Group, Fonds de solidarite FTQ and Fondaction CSN.[2] In 2018, Enerkem raised the biggest cleantech deal in the history of Canada’s venture market following a $280 million round in new financing.[3]


Dr. Esteban Chornet (Ph.D. from Lehigh University; Professor Emeritus from Sherbrooke University) conceived the idea for a waste-conversion technology after being inspired by his father, who used wood waste from his sawmill to make electricity in the late 1930s in Mallorca, Spain. In 2000, Dr. Chornet co-founded Enerkem with his son Vincent Chornet. Under Vincent Chornet's expert guidance, Enerkem has established itself as an entrepreneurial leader in the field of advanced biofuels and green chemicals and grown to 200 employees (as of January 2018).

  • 2003: A pilot facility began operations using Enerkem’s technology in Sherbrooke, Quebec.
  • 2007: Enerkem announced the construction of Canada’s demonstration cellulosic ethanol plant to use waste materials. This plant is located in Westbury, Quebec.
  • 2011: The demonstration plant in Westbury, Quebec, starts to produce methanol.
  • 2011: Fast Company magazine named Enerkem one of the World's 50 Most Innovative Companies.[4]

Plants and projects[edit]

Current facilities[edit]

  • Edmonton, Canada: This commercial facility being erected in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada is partially funded by the government of Alberta and the Government of Canada. Commissioning of front-end systems commenced December 2013, and Enerkem then expected initial methanol production during 2014.[5] It was officially inaugurated in June 2014.[6] As of 2015 according to Enerkem commercial operation were yet to begin, and methanol production delayed with expected initial production late 2016.[7] As of spring 2016 Enerkem did not expect full operation of this plant before 2018 at the earliest.[8] In November 2017 an additional grant of $3.5 million was rewarded by the Government of Canada as part of the Western Economic Diversification Program in order to finance the final phase of the facility.[9] The facility's planned throughput capacity is 350 metric tons of RDF a day with a production capacity of 38 million litres (10 million gallons) of ethanol per year. There is no public information available on any operational experience from the plant, and the first actual processing of RDF at the plant has not been officially reported yet.

Planned facilities[edit]

  • Varennes, Canada: Enerkem is developing a commercial facility in Varennes, Quebec. The facility will use urban waste from the industrial, commercial, and institutional sectors as well as construction and demolition debris as feedstocks. As of late 2016 construction was expected to begin during 2017.[10] In December 2017, the Government of Quebec has announced that it will be providing $38 million in financial assistance to Enerkem to build the facility.[11] The Varennes project including financial assistance from the Government of Quebec was initially announced in 2012.[12]
  • Rotterdam, The Netherlands: a consortium of companies comprising Air Liquide, AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals, Enerkem and the Port of Rotterdam has signed a project development agreement covering initial investments in the development of an Enerkem facility in Rotterdam. Final decision is expected later in 2018[13]
  • China: Enerkem signed an agreement with Sinobioway Group potentially worth over C$125M in the form of equity investment in Enerkem Inc., future licenses, equipment manufacturing and sales, as well as for the creation of a joint venture to support a global expansion of Enerkem’s technology and create a joint venture that could potentially lead to many Enerkem facilities in China by 2035.[14]

Innovation Centres[edit]

  • Westbury, Canada: In operation since 2009, the Westbury facility was originally the demonstration centre for Enerkem. According to the company's website, the facility is now considered an innovation centre, as it tests unconventional feedstocks and raw materials proposed by its clients, focuses on the development of new products and trains plant technicians and operators.[15]

Decommissioned facilities[edit]

  • Sherbrooke, Canada: Built in 2003, Enerkem’s Sherbrooke facility was the company’s pilot plant. The plant has produced syngas, methanol and cellulosic ethanol, in addition to more than 25 feedstock materials that have been tested there. The pilot plant was decommissioned in 2016.

Environmental advantage[edit]

By using municipal solid waste that is otherwise sent to landfills, the facilities can address the challenges associated with waste disposal and help reduce the need for new landfills. By diverting waste from landfills, Enerkem's facilities is one of several technologies that can diminish landfill methane gas emissions, which according to the EPA, are significantly more powerful at warming the atmosphere than CO2.

Cellulosic biofuels produced with the Enerkem technology provide a domestic, renewable fuel that will help reduce dependence on foreign oil and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Modular design[edit]

Enerkem's facilities are built around the company's proprietary thermochemical technology and are designed to convert carefully sorted and pretreated waste fractions into clean transportation fuels and renewable chemicals. Enerkem’s facilities have a compact footprint and can be located on landfill sites or near the waste sorting locations. The technology used is based on a modular approach each with an annual ethanol production capacity of 10 million gallons (38 million litres). Each location can have more than one module.


  1. ^ "Municipal trash-to-ethanol plant opens in Canada". CNET. 2010-08-10. Retrieved 2018-01-05.
  2. ^ "Company history - Enerkem". Enerkem. Retrieved 2018-01-05.
  3. ^ "Enerkem's $280 mln round is Canada's biggest cleantech VC deal ever - PE Hub". PE Hub. 2018-02-07. Retrieved 2018-02-16.
  4. ^ "Enerkem: Most Innovative Company | Fast Company". Fast Company. Retrieved 2018-01-05.
  5. ^ Enerkem press release December 2013 found at the PR Newswire webpage.
  6. ^ "Enerkem to Squeeze Biofuel Out of Old Electricity Poles". gigaom.com. January 13, 2009.
  7. ^ "Enerkem Website". Enerkem. February 17, 2016.
  8. ^ "Garbage to gas: Edmonton biofuel plant to enter final stage". CBC News. 2016-08-24. Retrieved 2018-01-05.
  9. ^ "Enerkem Alberta receives C$3.5 million federal grant for Edmonton plant : Biofuels Digest". www.biofuelsdigest.com. 2017-11-21. Retrieved 2018-01-05.
  10. ^ "Ethanol Producer Magazine – The Latest News and Data About Ethanol Production". www.ethanolproducer.com. 2016-11-14. Retrieved 2018-01-05.
  11. ^ "Enerkem à Varennes: une aide financière de 38 millions | Hélène Baril | Énergie et ressources". La Presse (in French). December 2017. Retrieved 2018-02-19.
  12. ^ "Enerkem and Greenfield ethanol announce Quebec's first waste-to-biofuels production facility". EE-Evaluation Engineering. NP Communications, LLC. March 2012. Retrieved 2018-02-19.
  13. ^ "Enerkem to Lead Consortium to Develop Waste to Chemical Project in Rotterdam". 2018-02-16. Retrieved 2018-02-16.
  14. ^ "Canadian biofuel firm Enerkem strikes $125M scale-up deal with Chinese company - Canadian Manufacturing". Canadian Manufacturing. 2018-01-22. Retrieved 2018-02-16.
  15. ^ "Innovation Centers - Enerkem". Enerkem. Retrieved 2018-01-05.

External links[edit]