Renewable Petroleum Co. to Produce Biodiesel in Fla.

John Davis

While most of the renewable energy news coming out of Florida this week is about ethanol with the National Ethanol Conference going on in Orlando, a California renewable petroleum company has announced it will be making biodiesel in the Sunshine State.

Biomass Magazine reports that LS9 will retrofit an existing fermentation facility in Okeechobee to make its UltraClean Diesel and chemicals on a demonstration scale with commercial scale production to follow:

“The beauty of this facility is that it’s scalable,” said Jon Ballesteros, spokesperson for LS9. “It already has the large, commercial-scale equipment.” Using LS9’s proprietary one-step fermentation process, the demonstration facility will be producing 50,000 to 100,000 gallons of renewable transportation fuel by the end of the year, according to the company. After testing and demonstrations are complete, scale up can begin.

The demonstration plant will initially run on sugar cane syrup provided by local suppliers, Ballesteros said, but will also be utilized in testing other feedstocks such as wood chips and agricultural waste. “We will test and optimize the use of sugars derived from cellulosic biomass,” he said.

Ballesteros declined to release a cost estimate for the project. “But the facility has much of the equipment we need, so the retrofit will not require extensive capital outlays,” he said. The six-month construction process will create 30 to 50 jobs, along with 15 to 20 once operational, according to LS9. Purchase agreements for the biodiesel are still being discussed with a number of interested parties, he added.

The company goes on to say the new facility will demonstrate LS9’s one-step manufacturing process is ready and capable of bringing low-cost, low-carbon fuels to market … good for the company and biofuels in this country.