Vero Beach will be the country's first location to produce ethanol from yard waste such as leaves and tree trunks.
The INEOS Bio Facility will soon open in Vero Beach, using new technology to turn non-food biomass waste into fuel for gasoline.
Jeremy Martin, senior scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists, said this advancement will provide a new source of ethanol that can comprise up to 10 percent of a gasoline mix.
"All of them get blended into the gasoline we buy in the gas station," Martin said. "Ethanol helps power our cars, and this is a way to expand that and do it without using any more food."\
About 40 percent of the nation's corn crop goes toward producing ethanol now. The INEOS facility is capable of producing 8 million gallons of fuel a year.
Martin said Florida has enough non-food biomass potential to produce close to 1 billion gallons of ethanol every year using the process. The INEOS facility will employ 380 people, and Martin predicts biomass energy production in the state will only increase.
"There's the potential to not just have one facility with the construction jobs, and the full-time jobs, and the energy production that that entails, but to have 20 or 30 or 50 facilities," Martin said.
According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, ethanol production using non-food sources could contribute the equivalent of 1.5 million barrels of oil a day by 2035. That, combined with improved fuel efficiency in vehicles, could cut in half the projected oil use in the United States over the next 20 years.
- Florida News Connection