A startup company in Delray Beach with ties to a local developer is trying out another use for land: growing crops that can be used for biofuel.
Ag-Oil, which is affiliated with Boca Raton-based Ascot Development, announced plans to build a biodiesel refinery on 103 acres in Delray Beach.
The refinery would be a pilot-scale facility designed to process algae and non-food oilseed crops such as jatropha, a bush that yields beans with a high oil content.
Ascot has been working on such projects as the Delray Marketplace commercial development and the Whitworth Farms residential development.
Ag-Oil said in a news release that it would use technology and processes developed by New York-based United Environment & Energy (UEE), Argonne National Laboratory, the University of Florida and the University of Southern Illinois to develop the technology and process for the refinery.
The refinery would convert the crops into pure biodiesel (B100).
“The continuous flow technology developed by United Environment & Energy will allow for faster and cheaper production of biodiesel,” UEE Vice President Ben Wen said in the news release.
The company said it is applying for a U.S. Department of Energy grant through the federal stimulus program to assist in financing the project. It said it anticipates 128 jobs at the facility once it is completed.
Manual harvesting of jatropha has been a widespread problem in development of biofuel from the crop. Ag-Oil said in its news release that it has identified and demonstrated a mechanical harvester for jatropha.