February marked an important milestone in the establishment of a bioenergy center in Vero Beach, Fla., as developer Ineos Bio JV held a groundbreaking ceremony that drew a larger crowd than expected to the project site.
More than 200 people attended the event for the Indian River BioEnergy Center, according to Dan Cummings, vice president of commercial and external affairs for Ineos Bio. The excellent turnout included officials from the U.S. departments of agriculture and energy, as well as local government officials and investors.
The excitement revolves around an innovative gasification-fermentation process that will produce 8 million gallons of bioethanol annually, as well as 6 megawatts of power, using local yard and household wastes from a nearby landfill.
Unlike many power-producing gasification systems, the resulting steam is what generates the power, not the syngas. It is cooled and then fed into a steam turbine, according to Cummings. About 4 megawatts will be used at the facility and the rest will be exported to help power 1,400 homes, although power purchase agreements have yet to be finalized. “That’s what gives us a very good life-cycle profile, not only for this process, but for the fuel as well,” he says. The syngas, produced at a certain temperature regime to maintain quality, is used in the subsequent fermentation process to make the bioethanol, although a variation of the process does allow the use of syngas for electricity.
“We do have an alternative design where we actually bypass some of the syngas directly to the boiler to produce even more power,” says Mark Niederschulte, Ineos Bio chief operating officer. “That’s a design we’ve come up with to satisfy the needs of the European market.”
Although the power production aspect of the facility does bring efficiency and economic benefits, it is essentially an outcome of the design and technology, Niederschulte adds. “Functionally, it works out,” he says. “It’s an outcome of the heat interaction of the design to try to maximize the energy efficiency of the entire process.”
Ineos Bio began construction in February and expects the facility to be completed in April of 2012, with commissioning and operation shortly thereafter, Cummings says.