MULBERRY, Fla. (WFLA) — Rocket fuel, made in Polk County.
That’s the plan for a hydrogen plant set to be built off Old Highway 37 in Mulberry.
“It just shows more diversity in Polk County. It adds to our tax base, our employment base, attracting higher-tech jobs. All those things contribute to a better quality of life,” said county commissioner George Lindsey.
Lindsey said he has watched as Polk County moved from a phosphate and citrus-focused economy, with double-digit unemployment, to the most industry-diverse county in the state.
“Through a concerted effort from a lot of people, we’ve diversified that economy and this is a continuation of that effort and it’s exciting to be a part of it,” he said.
Lindsey met with a delegation from South Korea several months ago who were interested in building a hydrogen plant in the southeastern United States.
Polk County’s logistics hub, proximity to workforce in major markets, and other amenities landed LowCarbon Hydrogen Corporation in Mulberry.
“When they plotted all those points, the X’s crossed right here in Polk County,” Lindsey said.
During a stop in South Korea on his international trip last week, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Space Florida, Ocean Green Hydrogen Corporation, a Tampa-based company, and LowCarbon Hydrogen Corporation.
The agreement touts a deal to build a hydrogen plant at the intersection of Old Highway 37 and Pebbledale Road in Mulberry.
“As they develop those opportunities with companies in the Space Coast, it is very likely that we’re gonna see rockets fueled by hydrogen in the near future,” said Javier Marin, Vice President of Business Development for the Central Florida Development Council, who helped develop the project.
Hydrogen is a potential clean and energy-dense option to fuel not only cars but also, rockets into space.
“Anywhere you have high-energy density that’s required, hydrogen is a very good fuel source. So space is the ultimate version of that,” said Dr. Rahul Razdan, senior director of special projects at Florida Polytechnic University.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, hydrogen is an energy carrier, produced through splitting water using nuclear energy and renewable energy sources or through fossil fuels.
The biggest change, according to the Department of Energy, is cost.
The collaboration with Space Florida aims to support the development and of clean hydrogen and related technologies for aerospace and space industry launch applications, according to a news release from the governor’s office.
“Our state is taking a bold step towards promoting long-term development in the aerospace and space industry across the entire supply chain,” DeSantis said. “From manufacturing and launching to fuel production, Florida is the global leader in the new space economy.”
“Especially for Florida having a space port, this is a very interesting capability to have a hydrogen fuel source,” said Dr. Razdan.
A groundbreaking is scheduled for June 6.