Rayonier Advanced Materials (RYAM) of Fernandina Beach has submitted an application to the state for a bioethanol production plant that would be located at its current cellulose production complex.
According to the “air construction permit application” submitted to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection on Nov. 13, RYAM is seeking to operate the plant on its current site along with two shift process tanks, one off-spec tank and one product storage tank that would have internal floating roofs. The application states the plant would produce 7.5 million gallons of bioethanol for sale each year. The product storage tank can hold 39,900 gallons.
The project description states that “product ethanol will be loaded to trucks,” which means an increase of truck traffic to and from the RYAM compound.
RYAM said the four plant tanks and the loadout to transport trucks will emit exempt emissions that are listed within the application. The application does not speak to potential groundwater or surface water pollution.
The company says, “The Bioethanol Plant is being designed to be as independent as possible from the existing plant operations. Neither the Bioethanol Plant nor the associated heat recovery projects will impact pulp production or other emissions units other than the Sulfite Recovery Boiler.”
According to the RYAM website, the current plant was built in 1937. The site states, “The Fernandina Beach plant is a cornerstone of our business. Producing 155,000 metric tons of softwood cellulose specialties annually, it employs more than 300 people and contributes $35 million in wages and salaries, supporting our employees’ families and local economies. Our operations are powered, in part, by Eight Flags LLC, a combined heat and power plant on-site fueled by natural gas, which emits 50% less GreenHouse Gases than coal and generates 20 MW of power for Amelia Island residents and businesses. Furthermore, RYAM’s partnership with Borregaard supports LignoTech’s on-site lignin plant, producing sustainable, high-performing lignin products using renewable raw materials.”
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, renewable ethanol is produced by using advanced technologies from cellulosic materials such as waste paper, wood chips, and agricultural wastes. The production process can involve some hazardous materials, such as acids, bases, and gasoline (to denature the alcohol, or for blending).