INEOS Bio, USA is planning to sell its ethanol business, including the Ineos New Planet BioEnergy demonstration plant in Vero Beach, Florida, and the Ineos Bio USA Research Center in Fayetteville, Arkansas by the end of this year, Ethanol Producer Magazine reported on 7 September.

It said several companies had expressed interest in buying the plants and it hoped to make a decision on bidders and sale by the end of the year.

INEOS Bio said the US market for ethanol had changed and the economic drivers for development of its technology were no longer aligned with the company’s strategic objectives.

It said it had spent more than eight years and US$300M developing and commercialising its cellulosic technology. “The Vero Beach demonstration plant has achieved continuous operations and commercial scale syngas fermentation and has been instrumental in identifying various process improvements to be incorporated into the design and construction of the next generation of bioethanol plants based on the technology.”

Ethanol Producer Magazine said INEOS Bio broke ground on the Vero Beach demonstration plant in February 2011. The plant used a gasification fermentation process to convert cellulosic waste materials, such as yard and vegetative waste, into ethanol. It had the capacity to produce 8 MMgy of ethanol and 6 MW of electricity.

Commissioning of the plant began in June 2012 and it was producing renewable power by November 2012. In July 2013, INEOS Bio announced the plant was also producing cellulosic ethanol at commercial scale. A few months later in December 2013, INEOS Bio said the facility would require certain modifications and upgrades to build its onstream performance and reliability.

In September 2014, the company announced a major turnaround had been completed at the facility, including technology upgrades, and that the plant was being brought back online, Ethanol Producer Magazine said. Improvements included the installation of equipment to remove impurities from one of the plant’s process streams. Around that time, a Florida Department of

Environmental Protection, Division of Air Resource Management document had revealed the plant had produced little to no ethanol due to the production of low levels of hydrogen cyanide, which is toxic to the bio-organisms in the fermentation process. The installation of wet scrubbers to remove the hydrogen cyanide was expected to solve that problem, the magazine said.

INEOS Bio is part of INEOS Group Ltd, a multinational chemicals company headquartered in Switzerland producing petrochemicals, speciality chemicals and oil products.