In regards to biofuel, INEOS Bio has been able literally turned trash into treasure. The company released a statement on Wednesday that they had successfully been able to produce commercial quantities of ethanol from wood waste and non-food vegetative matter. Soon, they hope to use municipal garbage as a feedstock to create the alcohol. Although they did not say exactly how much they had made in their Vero Beach, Florida facility, they hope to begin shipments this August of the fossil fuel alternative. Their ultimate goal is to produce eight million gallons a year.
Ethanol production begins by cooking a type of biomass feedstock such as trash or wood trimmings. It is turned into carbon monoxide and hydrogen through a process known as “gasification”. Bacteria are added to eat the gas in order to produce alcohol. The alcohol is distilled and made ready to be used to power vehicles. Central to the technology is a proprietary biocatalyst that is able to unlock the chemical compositions from low-cost, carbon waste materials during bacterial fermentation. Refining only takes a few minutes, and each gallon produced eliminates five pounds of carbon released into the atmosphere.
“Biomass gasification has not been done like this before, nor has the fermentation,” said chief executive of INEOS Bio, Peter Williams.
The plant has faced some challenges in the past, namely its dependance on the electric grid. They are working towards powering the facility from completely from garbage to avoid the need to shut down in the event of an electrical shortage. Despite the problem, the Department of Energy has lauded the new technology as the first of its kind and an important step to finding a substitute for the carbon pollution and greenhouse gas emissions created by fossil fuels. An important milestone in finding a means though which to dispose of trash and create energy, INEOS Bio could potentially be laying the groundwork for an entirely new market and infrastructure.
Images via INEOS Bio.