Florida's only ethanol plant to reopen

By Ron Kotrba
Anglo-American company Losonoco Inc., with offices in London and Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., is bringing the Sunshine State's lone ethanol plant centrally located in Bartow out of retirement by integrating first- and second-generation conversion technologies.

The original 6.5 MMgy ethanol plant used beverage waste as a feedstock. Losonoco representative Alan Banks said the idle plant should be operational again by the summer of 2008. In order to accomplish this, however, a feedstock choice must be made soon; the company is looking at using either corn or milo. The plant is located next to a 135-megawatt power plant from which the recommissioned alcohol facility will receive waste heat for processing before returning the condensate back to the power plant for its own operations.

In addition to the grain-based ethanol plant, Losonoco has proposed an adjacent 125-ton-per-day demonstration facility that would gasify carbon-based feedstocks into ethanol (60 percent), ammonia nitrate (20 percent) and steam to run the production process (20 percent). Banks said feedstocks with up to 55 percent moisture content can be utilized. Other feedstocks for the first demo plant are likely to be corn stover, citrus residues, yard and forestry waste, switchgrass, and even the grain-based ethanol plant's distillers wet grains. Losonoco intends to use the Skygas Gasification process, a plasma-based technology that Banks said requires no smokestack because the process doesn't release emissions. Eventually the company plans to rachet up its biomass-to-ethanol production in Bartow to 25 MMgy, but no timelines have were set at press time.