Florida approves permits for cellulosic plant

By Kris Bevill | October 14, 2010
Posted Oct. 19, 2010

INEOS New Planet BioEnergy, a joint venture between global chemical producer INEOS and biofuel developer New Planet Energy, has obtained the final permits necessary to construct an 8 MMgy cellulosic ethanol plant in Florida. It expects to begin construction by the end of this year and should produce at capacity in 2012. The facility will be located adjacent to a landfill in Indian River County.

INEOS New Planet BioEnergy President David King said he is pleased to receive permit approval from the state of Florida, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. DOE. "We have spent considerable effort to design a state-of-the-art facility to not only ensure compliance but also to minimize our impact on the environment," he said.

The plant will be located within the footprint of a former grapefruit processing plant and will be capable of utilizing forestry and agricultural waste as well as post-recycled municipal solid waste to produce ethanol. The patented technology that will be used at the facility has been under development for more than 20 years and has been tested for the past seven years at the company's research and development facility in Fayetteville, Ark., according to Dan Cummings, INEOS Bio vice president. It consists of a combined gasification-fermentation process that utilizes naturally occurring bacteria to produce ethanol from the waste-based gas, he said. The conversion process is continuous and requires little time to produce the final product. "It only takes a few minutes between the time you feed it into the gasifier and you get ethanol out the back end it's less than 10 minutes," Cummings said. Energy is the most abundant co-product produced using technology. The facility will produce 6 megawatts of power as a result of the ethanol production process. Ash left behind from the gasification step will likely be utilized at the nearby landfill for daily ground cover.

Total cost of the project will be more than $100 million. In 2009, the joint venture was selected to receive a $50 million, cost-matching, DOE grant.

INEOS is the largest ethanol producer in Europe, according to Cummings, but the Indian River project marks its first venture into the U.S. market. He said the increasing demand for cellulosic ethanol via the U.S. renewable fuels standard is a motivating factor for INEOS Bio's entry into the market. The company will also explore licensing its technology to other producers in the future.