Orlando Sentinel: Citrus for Ethanol?

Date: Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Edition: FINAL
Source: Kumari Kelly, Sentinel Staff Writer

Citrus peel in fuel tank? Ethanol’s juicy new twist
Central Florida’s citrus groves could play a key role in filling up your
car’s fuel tank in a futuristic Florida.
A $5.9 million plant planned in Auburndale will produce ethanol from
citrus peels with the help of a $500,000 grant as part of the state’s
“Farm to Fuel” initiative, Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services
Commissioner Charles H. Bronson announced Tuesday.
In all, $25 million in renewable energy grants were awarded, including the
grant to Southeast Biofuels LLC, a subsidiary of Xethanol Corp., a New
York-based publicly traded company, for the citrus peel project in Polk
County. U.S. Department of Agriculture researchers in Winter Haven have
worked for years on the technology.
“Florida is particularly interested in generating renewable fuels from
biomass and cellulose,” said Larry Parsons, a professor at the University
of Florida/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred.
“Florida has the climate and land to produce a great deal of biomass.”
The ethanol plant, which will lease space from Cutrale Citrus Juices USA
Inc. in Polk County, will use a 10,000-gallon fermenter and about 67,000
pounds of citrus peels per batch. The goal is to have a plant that could
make 8 million gallons of ethanol a year using 800,000 tons of citrus
As early as 1992, researchers at the USDA’s Agriculture Research Service
in Winter Haven began looking at ways to use citrus peels for ethanol
fuel, but costs of making it compared to the cost of gasoline offset the
practicality. In 2003, Bill Widmer, a researcher with the center, began
building on the early work of his predecessor and not only lowered the
cost but also recovered limonene, a product used as a fragrance and
cleaning agent.
Widmer estimates that Florida’s citrus waste could produce from 40 million
to 60 million gallons of ethanol a year. Florida drivers are expected to
use more than 9 billion gallons of gasoline in a year.
“Most ethanol is produced by fermenting corn, and because of recent
interest, the price of corn has nearly doubled since 2005,” wrote Parsons
in a recent trade magazine.
The value of ethanol has fluctuated from $1.25 to more than $4 per gallon
and can be made from orange peels for about $1.80 per gallon.
Currently about 3.5 million to 5 million tons a year of citrus peels are
used for cattle feed, which could affect the future of the ethanol
Since the interest in citrus peels has broadened, the value of the
cattle-feed citrus-pulp pellets has gone up to $135 per ton — nearly
three times what it was during most of the 1990s, Parsons said. Citrus
waste’s rising cost makes it a less-attractive alternative, however.
The Auburndale project is one of two Central Florida grant recipients of
the dozen doled out. The University of Central Florida also received
$500,000 for a project in Cocoa to generate clean-burning synthetic fuels
from animal waste and other biomass.
Proposals were judged on things such as their use of Florida-grown crops
and their potential to expand agribusiness in the state.
In a prepared statement, Bronson said, “We believe that awards such as
these are critical in triggering the development of a renewable energy
industry in Florida. We’re hopeful that these projects will yield positive
results and serve as a catalyst for major commercial investment in this



One thought on “Orlando Sentinel: Citrus for Ethanol?

  1. Louisiana Enacts the Most Comprehensive Advanced Biofuel Legislation in the Nation

    Advanced Biofuel Industry Development Initiative Benefits Consumers, Farmers and Gas Station Owners with Localized “Field-to-Pump” Strategy

    Baton Rouge, LA (September 10, 2008) – Governor Bobby Jindal has signed into law the Advanced Biofuel Industry Development Initiative, the most comprehensive and far-reaching state legislation in the nation enacted to develop a statewide advanced biofuel industry. Louisiana is the first state to enact alternative transportation fuel legislation that includes a variable blending pump pilot program and a hydrous ethanol pilot program.

    Field-to-Pump Strategy
    The legislature found that the proper development of an advanced biofuel industry in Louisiana requires implementation of the following comprehensive “field-to-pump” strategy developed by Renergie, Inc.:

    (1) Feedstock Other Than Corn
    (a) derived solely from Louisiana harvested crops;
    (b) capable of an annual yield of at least 600 gallons of ethanol per acre;
    (c) requiring no more than one-half of the water required to grow corn;
    (d) tolerant to high temperature and waterlogging;
    (e) resistant to drought and saline-alkaline soils;
    (f) capable of being grown in marginal soils, ranging from heavy clay to light sand;
    (g) requiring no more than one-third of the nitrogen required to grow corn, thereby reducing the risk of contamination of the waters of the state; and
    (h) requiring no more than one-half of the energy necessary to convert corn into ethanol.

    (2) Decentralized Network of Small Advanced Biofuel Manufacturing Facilities
    Smaller is better. The distributed nature of a small advanced biofuel manufacturing facility network reduces feedstock supply risk, does not burden local water supplies and provides for broader based economic development. Each advanced biofuel manufacturing facility operating in Louisiana will produce no less than 5 million gallons of advanced biofuel per year and no more than 15 million gallons of advanced biofuel per year.

    (3) Market Expansion
    Advanced biofuel supply and demand shall be expanded beyond the 10% blend market by blending fuel-grade anhydrous ethanol with gasoline at the gas station pump. Variable blending pumps, directly installed and operated at local gas stations by a qualified small advanced biofuel manufacturing facility, shall offer the consumer a less expensive substitute for unleaded gasoline in the form of E10, E20, E30 and E85.

    Pilot Programs
    (1) Advanced Biofuel Variable Blending Pumps – The blending of fuels with advanced biofuel percentages between 10 percent and 85 percent will be permitted on a trial basis until January 1, 2012. During this period the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry Division of Weights & Measures will monitor the equipment used to dispense the ethanol blends to ascertain that the equipment is suitable and capable of producing an accurate measurement.

    (2) Hydrous Ethanol – The use of hydrous ethanol blends of E10, E20, E30 and E85 in motor vehicles specifically selected for test purposes will be permitted on a trial basis until January 1, 2012. During this period the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry Division of Weights & Measures will monitor the performance of the motor vehicles. The hydrous blends will be tested for blend optimization with respect to fuel consumption and engine emissions. Preliminary tests conducted in Europe have proven that the use of hydrous ethanol, which eliminates the need for the hydrous-to-anhydrous dehydration processing step, results in an energy savings of between ten percent and forty-five percent during processing, a four percent product volume increase, higher mileage per gallon, a cleaner engine interior, and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

    Act No. 382, entitled “The Advanced Biofuel Industry Development Initiative,” was co-authored by 27 members of the Legislature. The original bill was drafted by Renergie, Inc. Representative Jonathan W. Perry (R – District 47), with the support of Senator Nick Gautreaux (D – District 26), was the primary author of the bill. Reflecting on the signing of Act No. 382 into law, Brian J. Donovan, CEO of Renergie, Inc. said, “I am pleased that the legislature and governor of the great State of Louisiana have chosen to lead the nation in moving ethanol beyond being just a blending component in gasoline to a fuel that is more economical, cleaner, renewable, and more efficient than unleaded gasoline. The two pilot programs, providing for an advanced biofuel variable blending pump trial and a hydrous ethanol trial, established by the State of Louisiana should be adopted by each and every state in our country.”

    State Agencies Must Purchase or Lease Vehicles That Use Alternative Fuels
    Louisiana’s Advanced Biofuel Industry Development Initiative further states, “The commissioner of administration shall not purchase or lease any motor vehicle for use by any state agency unless that vehicle is capable of and equipped for using an alternative fuel that results in lower emissions of oxides of nitrogen, volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide, or particulates or any combination thereof that meet or exceed federal Clean Air Act standards.”

    Advanced Biofuel Price Preference for State Agencies
    Louisiana’s Advanced Biofuel Industry Development Initiative provides that a governmental body, state educational institution, or instrumentality of the state that performs essential governmental functions on a statewide or local basis is entitled to purchase E20, E30 or E85 advanced biofuel at a price equal to fifteen percent (15%) less per gallon than the price of unleaded gasoline for use in any motor vehicle.

    Economic Benefits
    The development of an advanced biofuel industry will help rebuild the local and regional economies devastated as a result of hurricanes Katrina and Rita by providing:
    (1) increased value to the feedstock crops which will benefit local farmers and provide more revenue to the local community;
    (2) increased investments in plants and equipment which will stimulate the local economy by providing construction jobs initially and the chance for full-time employment after the plant is completed;
    (3) secondary employment as associated industries develop due to plant co-products becoming available at a competitive price; and
    (4) increased local and state revenues collected from plant operations will stimulate local and state tax revenues and provide funds for improvements to the community and to the region.

    “Representative Perry and Senator Gautreaux have worked tirelessly to craft comprehensive advanced biofuel legislation which will maximize rural development, benefit consumers, farmers and gas station owners while also protecting the environment and reducing the burden on local water supplies,” said Donovan. “Representative Perry, Senator Gautreaux, and Dr. Strain, Commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, should be praised for their leadership on this issue.”

    About Renergie
    Renergie was formed on March 22, 2006 for the purpose of raising capital to develop, construct, own and operate a network of ten ethanol plants in the parishes of the State of Louisiana which were devastated by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Each ethanol plant will have a production capacity of five million gallons per year (5 MGY) of fuel-grade ethanol. Renergie’s “field-to-pump” strategy is to produce non-corn ethanol locally and directly market non-corn ethanol locally. On February 26, 2008, Renergie was one of 8 recipients, selected from 139 grant applicants, to share $12.5 million from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Renewable Energy Technologies Grants Program. Renergie received $1,500,483 (partial funding) in grant money to design and build Florida’s first ethanol plant capable of producing fuel-grade ethanol solely from sweet sorghum juice. On April 2, 2008, Enterprise Florida, Inc., the state’s economic development organization, selected Renergie as one of Florida’s most innovative technology companies in the alternative energy sector. By blending fuel-grade ethanol with gasoline at the gas station pump, Renergie will offer the consumer a fuel that is more economical, cleaner, renewable, and more efficient than unleaded gasoline. Moreover, the Renergie project will mark the first time that Louisiana farmers will share in the profits realized from the sale of value-added products made from their crops.

    Posted by renergie | September 10, 2008, 12:33 pm

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