At Florida Crystals, we use our crops and urban wood waste as fuel to generate renewable electricity. We own and operate the largest renewable energy facility of its kind in North America and one of the largest in the world.
Sugar cane ranks highest among all cultivated crops at capturing solar energy in reusable form. Our renewable energy facility converts biomass (plant matter) to electricity. We recycle urban wood and vegetative waste and our leftover sugar cane fiber, called bagasse, to produce clean, environmentally-friendly electricity that powers our sugar operations as well as 60,000 homes.
Because we use local biomass as fuel, our facility eliminates the need for one million barrels of foreign oil per year. By reducing the use of harmful fossil fuels, we cut greenhouse gas emissions by hundreds of thousands of tons each year, helping to reduce global warming.
Each year, we divert 900,000 tons of wood waste from landfills and convert this otherwise worthless waste to a valuable product, clean electricity. In doing so, we conserve valuable landfill space -- 3.5 million cubic yards per year -- in urban communities.
The cost of fuel accounts for 85% of the money spent by most power facilities. Since our fuel consists of locally grown and harvested sugar cane fiber and locally collected recycled wood waste, we invest that money in Florida. Conversely, most fossil-fueled power facilities send most of their money out of the state or out of the country.
Florida Crystals is also investing in the future of renewable fuels to help with America’s energy security and reduce fossil fuel emissions. We have partnered with leading universities to conduct research and development of cellulosic ethanol to make fuel out of our sugar cane fiber and other wood waste.
Cellulosic ethanol has a very positive energy input-output ratio. The cellulosic ethanol process will provide us with another high-end use of our bagasse, or left over sugar cane after the sucrose juice has been extracted. It will also allow us to produce both sugar and ethanol; we will not need to choose between food or fuel. To learn more about the differences between ethanol from cellulose and corn ethanol click here.
Florida Crystals serves on the technical advisory committee, helping to evaluate the commercial viability of the University of Florida's cellulosic ethanol technology, which will be tested in a demostration facility. The University of Florida was awarded a $20 million state grant to encourage the development of alternative energy resources. Technology developed by University of Florida professor Lonnie Ingram will be used to convert sugar cane bagasse and other biomass to ethanol, a clean energy alternative.
Florida Crystals is also working with Florida International University to identify a pretreatment process that can cost-effectively convert sugar cane bagasse to ethanol. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection awarded FIU’s Applied Research Center and Florida Crystals a $1M grant to develop cellulosic ethanol technology under the Florida Renewable Energy Technologies Grant Program.