Red Deer County has struck a tentative deal that could see the development of renewable diesel refineries at its Horn Hill waste transfer station.
Cielo Waste Solutions Corp. (CSE: CMC) announced on Monday that it’s signed a letter of intent with the county to lease the waste transfer facility east of Penhold, and to buy 20 acres of adjacent county land.
The company plans to construct a waste-processing system and three diesel refineries on the site, with the refineries to use municipal waste material as feedstock.
Don Allan, the Red Deer-based CEO of Cielo, said about 85 tonnes of garbage are trucked daily from Horn Hill to a Coronation landfill.
His company would use most of this in its operations, he said.
Cielo currently has a small demonstration refinery that can produce about 50 litres of renewable diesel per hour from materials like paper, cardboard, cloth and plastics. Used motor oil and a special catalyst are also required.
Allan said Cielo has modified and improved the process, and is preparing to construct a plant capable of producing 200 litres of renewable diesel an hour.
Thereafter, it plans to build three, 700-litre-per-hour refineries for the Horn Hill property. Each would consume about 22 tonnes of waste material a day.
“It’s our intent to make that the flagship for the world to come and see,” said Allan, adding that 700-litre refineries are the size Cielo expects to sell internationally.
Subject to permits and other approvals, the 200-litre unit could be operating by fall, he said, and the first 700-litre refinery operational early next year.
The 200-litre unit has already been sold to a buyer in Australia.
“We wanted it on the other side of the world so people could come and see it without having to fly all the way to Canada.”
Red Deer County manager Curtis Herzberg said the appeal of the project to the county is its potential for reducing the volume of material going into landfills.
Garbage coming to the Horn Hill waste transfer station would not be impacted, he stressed.
“It’s all about changing the output, not the input.”
Cielo said its letter of intent with the county is subject to a number of conditions, including approvals by regulatory bodies and county council.
Allan expressed optimism these will be obtained, pointing out that the refineries would not produce significant odours, emissions or noise.
“Our whole focus is to make Cielo the greenest company in the world.”
Herzberg expects the matter to come before county council within a few months, with details like third-party verification of the science to be addressed before then.
“We want to ensure we’ve got enough details to present to council for their consideration; but council has made it very clear they want to make sure there’s a proper opportunity for public input as well.”
Allan said Cielo’s newest technology will allow its refineries to use wet organic materials like grass clippings and vegetable peelings. That could reduce methane emissions from landfills by 25 per cent, he said.
Cielo’s facilities would sort recyclables out of the waste stream, and byproducts of its process would include an asphalt-type material and sulphur, both of which could be sold. Some contaminated water would also result, with this to be filtered.
“We believe we’re the only profitable biodiesel plant in North America, without government subsidies,” said Allan of the economics of Cielo’s technology.
“Because we’re using garbage and we’re not using agricultural crops, our costs are pennies, not dollars.”
He said the company is getting inquiries from around the world.
The Horn Hill site was previously earmarked for Plasco Energy Group to convert garbage into syngas for power generation. But the project was rejected by the Central Waste Management Commission, of which the county is a member, when it concluded that the region could not generate enough garbage to meet Plasco’s requirements.
Herzberg said the vetting process used for Plasco’s proposal — which resulted in the project coming to an end before substantial costs were incurred — will be applied in the case of Cielo as well.
“We want to make sure it works.”