HOUSTON, TX --- Waste Management Inc. and InEnTec LLC announced the formation of S4 Energy Solutions LLC, a joint venture to process commercial and industrial waste to create a range of renewable energy and environmentally friendly fuels.
S4 Energy Solutions will develop plasma gasification facilities using InEnTec's Plasma Enhanced Melter (PEM) technology.
Based in Bend, Ore., InEnTec LLC (formerly Integrated Environmental Technologies LLC) was formed by engineers from MIT, Battelle and GE. Through its gasification system, InEnTec can transform medical, industrial and hazardous wastes into clean renewable products such as ethanol, methanol, diesel and hydrogen as well as generate electricity.
The new joint venture's initial focus will be to process medical and other segregated commercial and industrial waste streams. The company's future commercialization plans may also include the processing of municipal solid waste once the technology has been demonstrated to be economical and scalable for such use.
"With InEnTec, Waste Management has found a partner with a promising technology as well as strong management, research and development capabilities to address the hurdles to implementing a new technology," said Joe Vaillancourt, managing director at Waste Management. Based in Houston, Texas, Waste Management is a leading provider of waste management services in North America.
With the PEM process, waste materials are fed into a closed chamber where they are superheated to temperatures of between 10,000 and 20,000 degrees Fahrenheit using an electricity-conducting gas called plasma. The intense heat of the PEM rearranges the molecular structure of the waste, transforming organic (carbon-based) materials into an ultra-clean, synthesis gas (syngas).
The clean syngas could be converted to transportation fuels such as ethanol and diesel, industrial products like hydrogen and methanol or used as a substitute for natural gas for heating or electricity generation. In a secondary stage of the PEM process, inorganic (non-carbon-based) materials are transformed into environmentally beneficial products.
"Our PEM systems are the leading technology for commercial plasma gasification, and Waste Management will provide much of the process knowledge that will help make our joint venture successful," said Jeff Surma, president and CEO of S4 Energy Solutions.