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Back You are here: Home Renewables Bioenergy Ethanol First commercial-scale bioethanol facility in the United States operating in Florida


First commercial-scale bioethanol facility in the United States operating in Florida

First commercial-scale bioethanol facility in the United States operating in Florida
INEOS Bio started production of commercial-scale bioethanol at its first facility near Vero Beach, Florida. The Indian River BioEnergy Center is producing commercial quantities of transportation fuel from vegetative and wood waste, and at the same time exporting renewable power to the local community. The Center is also permitted to utilize municipal solid waste (MSW), quantities of which will be used for bioethanol production at the Center during 2014. Production is a major milestone in the deployment and maturation of advanced biofuels. INEOS Bio fuels will anchor new production of cellulosic ethanol under the US Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS). (PRNewsFoto/INEOS Bio)

Florida is now home to the first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol project in the United States.

Bioenergy company INEOS Bio has begun commercial production of cellulosic ethanol at their Indian River BioEnergy Center near Vero Beach Florida. First ethanol shipments will be released this month.

The Center will have an annual output of 8 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year derived from vegetative, yard, and municipal solid waste. It will also produce 6 megawatts of renewable energy from captured waste heat, enough to run the entire facility and provide excess power to the local community.

“We are producing commercial quantities of bioethanol from vegetative and wood waste, and at the same time exporting power to the local community – a world first. We expect to spend the remainder of 2013 putting the plant through its paces, and demonstrating full nameplate capacity,” said Peter Williams, chief executive officer of INEOS Bio.

The Center costs more than $130 million and created more than 400 direct construction, engineering and manufacturing jobs during its development. It now has 65 full-time employees and will provide $4 million annually in payroll to the local community.

The Center is a joint venture project between INEOS Bio and New Planet Energy. It uses a hybrid gasification and fermentation technology, developed by INEOS Bio with funding support from the Department of Energy.

“Today’s announcement of commercial-scale cellulosic production represents an important benchmark for American leadership in this growing global industry. It also demonstrates the need for early-stage investment in innovative technologies that will help diversify our energy portfolio, reduce carbon pollution, and lead to tomorrow’s energy breakthroughs,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.

The facility has already converted several types of waste biomass material into bioethanol, this includes vegetative and yard waste as well as citrus, oak, pine, and pallet wood waste.

“The ability to divert waste materials from communities and convert them into competitively priced renewable fuel and power offers an excellent value proposition. It helps solve waste disposal issues, contributes to the supply of affordable and renewable fuel and energy, creates attractive jobs, and provides a sustainable source of value for the community,” said Mr. Williams.

Biomass for future fuel and energy needs

The hybrid gasification and fermentation technology used by INEOS Bio began as a research project in the University of Arkansas and was tested and scaled up with the support of a $5 million Energy Department investment over the next fifteen years.

Biomass is first subjected to thermo-chemical gasification which converts it into carbon monoxide and hydrogen gases. These gases are then subjected to bio-chemical fermentation which synthesizes it into cellulosic ethanol. The entire process generates waste heat which is then captured and used to power a steam turbine to create electricity.

The Energy Department helped patent the technology at which point the core intellectual property was purchased by INEOS Bio in 2008.

In 2009, INEOS Bio and New Planet Energy were awarded a $50 million government grant to design, construct, commission, and operate the Indian River BioEnergy Center.

According to Mr. Moniz, biofuel projects such as this have an important role to play in the current administrations Climate Action Plan. The Energy Department funds research and development efforts to bring innovative, cost-cutting biofuel technologies on line, test the latest engineering advancements, and accelerate commercial production.

The India River BioEnergy Center will now serve as a reference plant for future INROD Bio facilities and for companies and cities interested in licensing the technology for similar facilities. – K. Jalbuena

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