Representatives from the University of Florida, Buckeye Technologies Inc. and the Florida Legislature broke ground for a new pilot plant to produce ethanol from cellulosic biomass.
Funded by a $20 million appropriation from the Florida Legislature, the plant will be built at the Perry, Fla. facility of Buckeye Technologies Inc., a manufacturer and worldwide distributor of cellulose-based specialty products made from wood and cotton. It is scheduled to be operational by spring 2011.
Much of the plant’s research will be based on the work of Lonnie Ingram, UF distinguished professor of microbiology and cell science and director of the Florida Center for Renewable Chemicals and Fuels. Ingram engineered an E. coli bacterium that breaks down inedible plant material into sugars that can be processed into fuel-grade cellulosic ethanol. Variations of the technology are already at work in fuel plants in Louisiana and Japan.
Click on photo, courtesy of IFAS news, for a larger view. Pictured left to right: Lonnie Ingram, UF distinguished professor of microbiology and cell science; Leonard Bembry, Florida House of Representatives District 10; Ralph Poppell, Florida House of Representatives District 29; Debbie Mayfield, Florida House of Representatives District 80; John Crowe, Buckeye Technologies, Inc. chief executive officer; Bernie Machen, University of Florida president; Cynthia O’Connell, University of Florida Board of Trustees; Larry Arrington, University of Florida interim senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources.