Vero Beach, Florida will soon be home to the nation’s first commercial size biofuel processing plant. Ineos New Plant BioEnergy began construction two days ago on the grounds of an old citrus-processing factory for the $130 million Indian River BioEnergy Center. The plant will annually produce 8 million gallons of bio-ethanol and six megawatts of renewable power, two of which will be exported to the local community.
The company building the plant is a joint venture by Ineos Bio and New Plant Energy. To create ethanol, the plant will use a traditional biofuel technology which involves heating plant waste and gasifying it, but they will also use a special technology developed by Ineos. While most processes focus on converting one type of plant material, the new technology uses naturally occurring bacteria that eat hydrogen and carbon monoxide to create ethanol from a multitude of raw materials, including household and yard waste, forestry waste, agricultural waste, and solid municipal waste. Whatever gases are not consumed by the bacteria, the plant will burn to produce electricity.
The plant will be up and running by the middle of next year, and the project is expected to provide 380 new jobs for the local community. Funding for the plant came from a $50 million grant from the Department of Energy, a $75 million loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture as part of its Biorefinery Assistance Program, and a $2.5 million grant from the state of Florida.
WHY THIS MATTERS
Biofuels are much cleaner and greener than fossil fuels, and they help to reduce our carbon footprint and mitigate global warming. Additionally, if all of the waste was not going to be used by the Ineos New Plant BioEnery, it would just go to a landfill, where it would generate methane, a potent global warming gas.
Photo credit: Ineos