The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences dedicated the Stan Mayfield Biorefinery Pilot Plant located in Taylor County in January 9, 2012. It was built in partnership with Buckeye Techonologies, Inc.
The biorefinery was named after the late House Representative Stan Mayfield who was Chair of the Florida House’s Environmental and Natural Resources Council. He championed education and energy research, and thus fully supported the Florida Legislature’s $20M appropriation for the biorefinery. The funding is aimed at stimulating Florida’s economy by simultaneously creating new high-tech industries and to
address the state’s growing energy needs. Florida has the potential to supply the ethanol for blending into automotive fuels throughout the southeastern US. Florida alone uses approximately 9 billion gallons/yr of automotive fuels. Petroleum-based fuels in the US are currently blended with bio ethanol at levels of 10% (E-10), 15% (E-15) or 85% ethanol (E-85). Replacing US dependence on imported petroleum with bio-based fuels and chemicals offers the opportunities to increase employment, decrease world conflicts, and improve the environment.
Buckeye Technologies, Inc. manufactures and distributes worldwide cellulose-based specialty products obtained from wood and cotton. These products include chemical cellulose, customized fibers, fluff pulp, and nonwoven materials.
The biorefinery occupies a total of 18,000 sq.ft of floor area for the main conversion process, laboratories, and client/collaborator spaces. This is the only fully integrated pilot facility in the US in which the full range of process development and operation are integrated with academic research, education, and training. Pilot facilities associated with other Universities have primarily focused on individual unit operations such as biomass production and storage, with limited University involvement in fermentation or process integration. Full integration of all processes at a pilot plant level is essential to realize the full potential of cellulosic fuels and chemicals at a setting beyond the limitations of beakers and test tubes, but without the inhibiting costs and unwieldy practicalities of a full industrial-scale plant.
The Stan Mayfield Biorefinery Pilot Plant employs a simple process based on a combination of successful examples from the corn-ethanol industry and research conducted at the University of Florida. The Florida Process is unique in utilizing less severe treatment conditions and the use of chemicals which are only components of fertilizer; it is the only one in the state and nation, and in the world in design and process.
The Florida process is a result of years of research based on the work of Dr. Lonnie O. Ingram, UF distinguished professor of microbiology and cell science and director of FCRC. He developed a breakthrough in technology that uses genetically engineered E. coli bacteria to produce fuel ethanol and organic acids from plant biomass, such as sugarcane residues, rice hulls, municipal waste, forestry and wood wastes and other organic materials.