Alabama town partners with Gulf Coast Energy

By Suzanne Schmidt
Web exclusive posted August 1, 2008 at 11:19 a.m. CST

The town of Hoover, Ala., is sending its wood waste to Gulf Coast Energy in Livingston, Ala., to produce ethanol. In return, Hoover will receive fuel to run the city's vehicles.

The city of Hoover recently transported 8 tons of wood waste to Gulf Coast Energy, which uses gasification to convert wood chips into ethanol. "We hope to have the first batch of ethanol delivered either late August or September," Hoover's Mayor Tony Petelos said.

Gulf Coast Energy, which is 100 miles from Hoover, Ala., has a small gasification demonstration site and can produce approximately 300,000 gallons of ethanol per year. According to Petelos, "this will be (one of ) the first times that ethanol is derived from a wood product, such as scrap trees and limbs." The city of Hoover has a partnership with Gulf Coast Energy to supply the demonstration plant with wood that normally ends up in the landfill. "We have enough wood waste in our city to produce 350,000 to 400,000 gallons a year [of ethanol]," Petelos said.

The ethanol produced at Gulf Coast Energy will be used to fuel Hoover city vehicles. Hoover currently runs 85 percent of its vehicles on alternative fuels. The city has 180 cars running on ethanol, and 196 using biodiesel. These vehicles include police cars, dump trucks, lawnmowers and heavy equipment.

Along with recycling waste wood, the city has also started creating biodiesel through oil collection from households and restaurants. "We hope to show the country that you can take these two waste products and pretty much fuel the entire city on these two scrap products that are being land filled today," Petelos said.