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New delay in sale of INEOS ethanol plant


West Palm Beach-based Alliance Bio Energy is still hopeful that it can purchase the defunct INEOS Bio ethanol plant west of Vero this summer, but the timeline Alliance CEO Daniel de Liege had projected for opening the doors and employing local people to make ethanol is now on hold.

De Liege had upped his sealed offer for the plant twice in an effort to avoid an open bidding war, but that strategy may not have achieved its goal.

Instead, ArborOne Bank, which holds title to the shuttered ethanol production facility, “decided to test the market and conduct a request for proposals that is due by close of business June 13th,” de Liege said, noting that the brokers and bank have been very gracious throughout the process and that he’s not bitter about the business decision.

“We resubmitted an official offer under this RFP with details of our plan to reopen, build a technology incubator with UCF and put upwards of 150 people back to work, soon,” de Liege said. “We understand that as of last week there was interest from a few other groups that want to scrap the facility and sell off the land and assets but no hard offers had been submitted at that time.”

Alliance has been raising tens of millions of dollars in capital to help convert the plant and hire skilled workers to run it. It also plans to continue research and development efforts in search of additional commercial applications for the bioethanol product.

Indian River County officials, though not involved in the transaction, have publicly expressed a preference for having a firm like Alliance come in and revitalize the facility so it could begin taking all the county’s excess yard waste and converting it into cheap sugar and ultimately into ethanol.

INEOS shuttered the plant after years of trying to make a commercial success of a method of creating ethanol that was largely kept secret from local leaders and the public. De Liege says the patented, mechanical process Alliance has been using for years repurposes equipment used to pulverize coal, but instead mashes plant-based waste material – palm fronds, tree branches, grass clippings, etc. – into a fine pulp and mixes it with kaolinite clay to create a reaction.

Alliance has promised transparency in its operations and said it will not generate any hazardous waste if it buys and reopens the plant.