Indiana county approves trash-to-ethanol facility

By Kris Bevill | November 03, 2008
Web exclusive posted Nov. 28, 2008 at 4:46 p.m. CST

After months of negotiations and meetings, Lake County, Ind., officials voted 14-4 at a late November meeting approving a 15-year contract with Powers Energy One of Indiana to construct and operate a 32 MMgy ethanol production facility. The county will pay a tipping fee to the company in exchange for the plant to convert the county's usable trash to ethanol.

Prior to approving the Powers One contract, the board had previously considered bids from Genahol-Powers One LLC and Agresti Biofuels. Powers Energy One President Earl Powers told Ethanol Producer Magazine he believes his company won the contract because it offered the most feasible MSW-to-ethanol technology. "The process is a revolutionary step forward in addressing two major issues facing our nation: the environmental problems caused by our difficulties in disposing of the mountains of waste we produce; and finding a cost-effective way to provide alternative energy from domestic sources," Powers said.

The gasification/fermentation process that will be used at the facility was purchased by Powers Energy One from technology-provider INEOS Bio. The technology has been put to use at an INEOS Bio pilot-scale facility in Fayetteville, Ark., for five years, according to Powers, and was a major selling point to members of the Lake County Solid Waste Management District.

Final site selection for the $211 million facility will begin the first week of December, Powers said. He expects permitting to take up to four months and construction an additional 12 to 18 months, making the 2010 opening goal an optimistic bet.