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Yard Waste Will Power Florida Cars

PHOTO: INEOS Bio Facility. Courtesy: Union of Concerned Scientists
PHOTO: INEOS Bio Facility. Courtesy: Union of Concerned Scientists
January 10, 2013

VERO BEACH, Fla. - Florida 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 be up and running in Vero Beach, using new technology to turn non-food biomass waste into fuel to be used in gasoline.

Jeremy Martin is a senior scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists. He says 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. Ethanol helps power our cars, and this is a way to expand that and do it without using any more food."

Currently, 40 percent of the nation's corn crops go toward producing ethanol. The INEOS facility is capable of producing 8 million gallons of fuel a year.

Martin says 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 this is just the beginning of biomass energy production in the state.

"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."

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, the production of ethanol 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 U.S. over the next 20 years.

Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - FL