Garbage turned into diesel

ALDERSYDE, Alta. — It is garbage in and diesel out at Cielo Waste Solutions.

The company has perfected technology to process and distill waste products into high grade diesel fuel for airplanes, highway trucks and ocean liners.

Located at Aldersyde, Alta., south of Calgary, the technology has been in the works for about 15 years, said company president and chief executive officer Don Allan. It is the former site of a biodiesel plant that used animal fat from nearby Cargill Meats.

All classes of plastics, tires, agriculture products, wood and any other landfill waste that can be liquefied or burned is ground up into particles, then pulverized into a powder-like substance. The process of catalytic thermal depolymerization converts the byproducts into diesel. Material is mixed with used motor oil and heated up to 350 C and within 15 minutes the material is distilled into fuel.

Cielo Waste Solutions takes any kind of waste products that can be pulverized and puts it through a proprietary process to make diesel fuel. All classes of plastic and any kind of organic material can be used. | Barbara Duckworth photo

“We make a renewable product. Our goal is to eliminate the need for landfills,” he said in an interview at the plant.

Canada imports millions of litres of biodiesel, which is blended with fuel to reduce emissions. This process offers a home-grown product that reduces landfill material and can take almost everything but metal, glass and rocks.

The plant produces about 1,000 litres of fuel from 1.5 tonnes of garbage in an hour. Plans are to double production.

There is about two percent waste ash from this process. It is high in nitrogen and testing is underway to convert it to fertilizer.

“I am hoping we have nothing that goes back to the landfill,” he said.

Allan’s long-term goal is to build a green company that can also handle the growing mounds of trash in landfills across the country.

The plant has been operating since last year after 15 years of research and spending millions of dollars to find a workable technology.

“I had a bunch of heavy oil and we were looking for ways to upgrade it. So November 2004 we started looking at ways to upgrade it,” he said.

An engineering company looked at 220 different technologies before settling on a German process that could be adapted to the concept in Alberta.

Every municipality has to deal with expanding landfills and every country has a mandate for blending renewables in fuel.

“We have a company that no matter what happens in the world, we can only expand,” he said.

Cielo is a publicly traded waste management company based in Red Deer. It works with the city of Calgary, and other communities such as Grande Prairie, Medicine Hat and Brooks have signed memorandums of agreement to use the technology to deal with their waste piles.

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