Ineos Bio Takes Advanced Biofuel Technology Commercial
The desire for energy independence, security of energy supply, and reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions has set tremendous challenges. In the U.S., the target is to provide an additional 16 billion gallons of transportation fuel from domestic and renewable biomass resources by 2022 and so, displace the need for about 550 million barrels of oil at a savings of $32 billion, while reducing GHG emissions by at least 60 percent. For companies like Ineos, the target represents both opportunity and challenge. On one hand, it creates a vast market for new technology and innovation. On the other, it requires diversion of resources and capital from existing core businesses that underpin both company performance and sustain jobs—more than 3,000 jobs here in the U.S. It’s for that reason that we welcome the fiscal incentives provided by the U.S. DOE and USDA. These combine to create a public-private partnership to drive the rapid development and deployment of new technology to meet the twin demands for domestic supply of transport fuels while meeting challenging new GHG emission requirements. And while the advanced biofuels industry might be seen by some observers to be at a crossroads, we believe that, in fact, there is a credible path forward to deliver well against the challenge laid down. The key as we see it is having the ability to utilize the cheapest renewable carbon source—waste.
Ineos Bio has developed and is commercializing new technology that takes a wide variety of biomass or other carbon waste and converts it with high efficiency into both bioethanol and excess renewable energy. An important milestone was achieved in early February when we and our joint venture partner, New Planet Energy, broke ground on the Indian River BioEnergy Center in Vero Beach, Fla. This will become the first facility in the world to produce advanced biofuels from waste on a commercial scale.
When production begins next year, the facility will generate 8 MMgy of advanced bioethanol together with 6 megawatts (gross) of renewable electricity, of which about 1 to 2 MW will be exported to the grid. Feedstocks will include yard waste, wood, vegetative and household wastes. These break the link between food crops and biofuel production while also reducing the amount of waste going to landfills.
The Ineos Bio process is comprised of four main steps: gasification, fermentation, distillation and power generation. This feedstock-flexible process has been in development for more than 20 years, including seven years of integrated pilot plant testing at Ineos Bio’s R&D facility in Fayetteville, Ark. At pilot-scale, the process has achieved a production rate of 100 gallons of ethanol for every dry ton of feedstock. We have successfully tested a wide variety of feedstocks including wood, vegetative, and municipal solid waste, purpose-grown crops and even carbon sources like waste coal, tires and auto-shredder residue. Independent life-cycle analysis calculates that with biomass feedstocks, the GHG savings will be 100 percent or more. More because diverting waste from landfills also prevents methane production, which is itself an additional contributor to GHG emissions.
The next stage of our plan is to license this technology across the U.S. and globally, essentially using the Vero Beach facility to create the template. We believe that this plan is credible for two reasons. First, there is widespread feedstock availability in the U.S. and beyond. As communities, we already have to collect our waste. The Ineos Bio technology can latch onto the existing waste infrastructure and divert it to more efficient use. Secondly, the engineering, technical and commercial resources required to deploy the technology already exist. As a leading global licensor of chemical process technology, Ineos has the broad infrastructure and capabilities required to license, train, and support Ineos Bio’s customers.
Ineos is a company with proven capability to deploy this advanced biofuel technology, and we are certainly optimistic given the strong policy direction and fiscal incentives. A huge amount of work remains to be done, but we really do believe that we can achieve our aspiration to provide communities large and small with the ability to utilize local waste to produce advanced biofuel and renewable power locally. Provided we grasp the opportunity, we can make an important contribution to a cleaner, sustainable energy future, starting today.
Author: Peter Williams
CEO, Ineos Technologies