PEM Process

More green news from Bend, Oregon! This time, its an announcement from InEnTec, LLC, a company based right here in Central Oregon, that it will be employing its proprietary technology, Plasma Enhanced Melter (PEM) to convert waste into ethanol fuel in “the first commercial scale production facility of its kind in the U.S.”

Do you realize what this means? Not only does less garbage go into our landfills, but renewable energy to fuel our vehicles is also produced!

Use of ethanol reduces our dependence on foreign oil supplies and also (should) quell the demands for more oil drilling in environmentally sensitive areas.

The July 22, 2008 press release notes:

When it begins operations in early 2010, the Sierra BioFuels plant is expected to produce approximately 10.5 million gallons of ethanol per year, and to process nearly 90,000 tons per year of municipal solid waste that would otherwise have been disposed in landfills.

Stung Meanchey - the garbage dump in Phnom Penh, Cambodia - 1

Landfills could be a thing of the past

Want to see how it converts waste into ethanol?

Check out the video below which shows operation of an InEnTec demonstration PEM unit in Richland, Washington that converts 25 tons per day - equal to 20% of the city’s waste- into ethanol fuel.

I am simply amazed by this technology, and I can’t wait to see it employed in more cities and counties across the United States. I can’t help but wonder whether InEnTec’s scientists could develop a smaller, household version of the PEM. I would love to take our own garbage and convert waste into ethanol, which (in my grown-up science project) we would then take out to the garage and fill up our cars. Think of all the emissions we could save without having to transport landfill waste to the larger PEM facilities! I just don’t know of a safe place to melt our garbage here at home…

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9 Responses to “InEnTec Converts Waste into Ethanol”

  1. I heard it was possible to produce natural gas from waste but it´s great to know that we can also make ethanol from waste. The best of two worlds - this way we will not have to make biofuels from “food” which it´s much needed by so many people around the world.

  2. You are right! Let’s create ethanol from our own garbage to free up landfill space and allow crops to be grown for fueling our bodies and not our vehicles! I certainly hope that more of these PEMs are incorporated into communities around the nation and the world.

  3. Before you accept the claims of InEnTec, check out the design of their plasma arc melter carefully!!! It is not pollution-free as they claim. The design has places that allow “fugitive emissions” of dioxin, heavy and other toxics at extremely high temperatures. The design has never been tested successfully. The Hawaii plant was defective and closed. Red Bluff, California just got this company out of town before it was going to build on a risky site near schools, the Sacramento river and a hospital. It would have filled the hospital with sick people. Burning toxic stuff emits toxic stuff unless it’s safe, so BEWARE!

  4. It will be very interesting to see the results of this.

    I love this blog! I’m reading about so many issues that I didn’t even know were issues.

    Thx for caring enough!

  5. @Jan - the technology now employed by InEnTech is a melter, not an incinerator - nothing is being burned. In addition, emissions are not at the level they were alleged to have been nearly 3 years ago in 2005 in Red Bluff (that is a very old story).

    Please consider the following, as well:

    InEnTec’s PEM system has been proven effective for a broad variety of waste streams and is fully commercial. For example, Kawasaki Heavy Industries in Japan purchased an InEnTec system that it has used to demonstrate the destruction of PCBs and asbestos. Now it is pursuing large scale commercial projects using this proprietary technology. Kawasaki has purchased non-exclusive rights to market the PEM system in Japan. Global Plasma Corporation has operated a PEM system in Taiwan for over three years converting medical and industrial waste into syntheses gas, which is used to generate clean electric power. In addition, InEnTec has recently signed a 10-year contract with Dow Corning, a major chemical company, to recycle Dow Corning’s hazardous waste into clean synthesis gas and chemical products.

    In short, destruction of potentially harmful materials and the reduction of vast amounts of waste (actually converting it to a useful product) is a win-win for the environment.

  6. Hi Shirley,

    I am glad you are following the InEnTech story and so many others here at You’re a real peach!

  7. Hi Stephanie,

    I am so pleased to see this article. It is great that you are taking note of this technology. I know there are skeptics, but I appreciate your obviously thorough research.

    The bottom line is that is that we couldn’t build a single PEM for anyone if it didn’t do exactly what we say it does. I think you’ll see PEM technology popping up in various green-thinking companies and communities around the country. There is a lot of excitement out there!

    It’s funny that you mentioned a household version of the PEM. One of the original concepts for the project was exactly that. Imagine all household waste being turned into clean electricity or ethanol. Its not cost-effective yet, but we did build one unit so that it fits on a tractor-trailer. We’ve used it to prove the technology to potential customers around the nation.

    For now, the landfills and municipal waste streams will serve as a truly recyclable, valuable material instead of merely trash. we hope it will lead to a real shift in the way people think about waste.

    Thanks again for taking the time to write such a fine article.

  8. Hi Rob,

    Thank you for your comments and I am glad that you found our article about InEnTec here at PeachyGreen. As I noted, I am a Bend resident and I follow many of the “green” stories that come out of Central Oregon.

    I am fascinated to hear about the household version of the PEM. How exciting to think about the future of this technology! I am sure that we’ll hear a lot more positive news from InEnTec in the future and please be sure to drop me a line with any other news releases in the future.

    All the best, Stephanie


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