First commercial biofuel plant in U.S. underway

Inhabitat reports that construction has begun on the nation’s first commercial biofuel plant, in Vero Beach, Florida.  Formerly the site of a citrus processing factory, the Indian River BioEnergy Center, a $130 million joint venture of Ineos Bio and New Plant Energy, is expected to annually produce 8 million gallons of bio-ethanol and six megawatts of renewable power, two of which will be allocated to the local community.

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 project has been funded by grants from the U.S. Department of Energy and the state of Florida, as well as a $75 million loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture as part of its Biorefinery Assistance Program.


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