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Florida Start-Up Targets Ethanol from Citrus Waste

23 February 2007

A Florida start-up formed in 2006 plans to commercialize technology developed by the US Department of Agriculture in the 1990s to produce ethanol from citrus waste. (Earlier post.) Citrus waste is rich in pectin, cellulose and hemicellusic polysaccharides, which can be hydrolyzed into sugars and fermented into ethanol.

Citrus Energy is seeking to raise $10 million to build an initial 4 million gallon per year ethanol plant. USDA researchers have estimated that the state has sufficient citrus waste to produce 80 million gallons of ethanol per year.

In addition to ethanol, the process produces limonene and cattle feed. Efficient fermentation requires the reduction of limonene—a terpene-based solvent which is the fruit’s natural defense against bacteria, viruses, and molds—by approximately 90%, according to the company.

For cattle feed, the solids (equivalent to wet distillers’ grains from corn) recovered from the distillation system after ethanol stripping will be delivered to the existing feedmill for drying.

Citrus Energy notes that the 5 million tons of citrus waste produced annually from Florida’s 100 million citrus trees is available on a continuous basis for 8 months a year with no transportation costs to ethanol plants co-located with citrus producers. Existing road and rail transportation systems servicing the citrus plant would take the ethanol to market.

(A hat-tip to The Fueling Station!)

February 23, 2007 in Cellulosic ethanol | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)

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Comments

Nice story. I realize everyone is going to say "oh, but its only 4 million gallons per year." No, it isn't a silver bullet, but the nice aspect is that it utilizes waste product- low hanging fruit, so to speak. Many similar projects, all over the country, to turn waste into fuel, when done in an efficient and environmentally responsible way, can really add up. These types of projects can have the combined benefits of reducing landfill waste and associated waste transportation fuel usage and costs, and help displace fossil fuel use, all while stimulating local economies. One only need to look at the concept of Lean Manufacturing in industry, to see how a series of small and simple commonsense measures, when applied in a disciplined and thought out way, can make a huge difference.

Additionally, by distributing ethanol production throughout the country ("low hanging fruit"), production is also more stable: it doesn't rely on a single cartel or a single feedstock, and there'll be a more stable supply (and price) as a result.

This is a pretty good example of a more distributed energy production model that removes the inefficiency of long distance transportation. Other aspects of such a model would include personal energy production through residential alternative energy (solar/wind/biomass). The closer you can get production and utilization of energy the more efficient the whole chain will be.

A better use would be to generate electricity using the alcohol from citrus and sugar cane in FL instead of using it for vehicle fuel.

It will be interesting to see how they implement this
project in regards to efficiency and total output.
The potential for this on the west coast may have promise. Especially with almost a Billion dollars of Frost damaged Navels
and Valencias just going to waste after the freeze. It would
be interesting to see if the crop damage insurance companys
would be able to reduce their payout on claims if there was
some residual value to this crops comercial "total loss".

It will be interesting to see how they implement this
project in regards to efficiency and total output.
The potential for this on the west coast may have promise. Especially with almost a Billion dollars of Frost damaged Navels
and Valencias just going to waste after the freeze. It would
be interesting to see if the crop damage insurance companys
would be able to reduce their payout on claims if there was
some residual value to this crops comercial "total loss".

Orange juice...it not just for breakfast anymore!!

When you talk about taking a direct food stock and producing ethanol from it (and consequently using more agricultural area strictly for ethanol production) I do oppose it.

When you show using WASTE material to produce fuels than I am all for it. Take that citrus waste and produce as much ethanol as you can! In this case, the lack of total capacity (for ethanol production) isn't as important since this deals with waste material.

What happened to the law that we were supposed to convert to a certain percentage ethanol use by this time? I remember reading about it from the Illinois Corn Products Association some years back. Then no more talk and no action.

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