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New process to convert RDF to alcohol coming to the UK

Plans are underway for an energy-from-waste plant in the UK that can process refuse-derived fuel (RDF) into methanol and ethanol.

Canadian RDF processor Enerkem already has a full-scale plant in Edmonton, Alberta (pictured), that uses the technology and is currently looking for sites in Europe, including the UK.

Vincent Chornet, chief executive officer, said: “The UK is a massive producer of RDF but the majority does not get converted in the country – it is disseminated throughout continental Europe.

“This is a market situation that does not make sense and we view this as an opportunity for us to develop a site.”

The Canadian plant was built in June 2014, and has an annual processing capacity of 100,000 dry tonnes a year of municipal solid waste taken from Edmonton.

Chornet said the high value of the alcohols produced from the process allows the company to accept RDF at a much lower fee than traditional facilities in the sector, making it more attractive to companies which would otherwise export the material.

The process takes approximately four minutes and uses gasification technology to convert the RDF into alcohol.

In Alberta, the remaining 15% inert material is sent to a cement kiln or is used as an aggregate in construction.

Enerkem has already partnered with Dutch chemicals company AkzoNobel to build a plant near Rotterdam within the next three years.

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