World’s largest cellulosic ethanol plant opens in Iowa

DuPont celebrated the opening of its cellulosic biofuel facility, the world’s largest, in Nevada, Iowa, U.S.A., with a ceremony that included Iowa Gov. Terry Brandstad and many other dignitaries, on Oct. 30. With a capacity to produce 30 million gallons per year of clean fuel , the plant offers the potential of reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 90% as compared to gasoline.

The raw material to produce the ethanol is corn stover—stalks, leaves and cobs—which are left in the field after harvest. DuPont said the Iowa plant will demonstrate at commercial scale that non-food feedstocks from agriculture can be the renewable raw material to power future energy demands. Cellulosic ethanol will further diversify the transportation fuel mix, just as wind and solar are expanding the renewable options for power generation, DuPont said in a statement.

Vital to the supply chain and the entire operation of the Nevada biorefinery are close to 500 local farmers within a 30-mile radius of the facility, who will provide the 375,000 dry tons of stover required to produce cellulosic ethanol yearly. The plant also will create 85 full-time jobs and more than 150 seasonal local jobs in Iowa.

“The opening of DuPont’s biorefinery represents a great example of the innovation that is possible when rural communities, their government and private industry work together toward a common goal,” said Brandstad.

Biomass-based businesses can bring new sources of revenue and high-tech opportunities to rural economies around the world. As a global company with operations in more than 90 countries, DuPont is uniquely positioned to deploy its cellulosic technology for a global rollout, in transportation fuel and other industries.

In Asia, DuPont recently announced its first licensing agreement with New Tianlong Industry to build China’s largest cellulosic ethanol plant. Last fall, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was announced between DuPont, Ethanol Europe and the government of Macedonia to develop a second-generation biorefinery project. The company also is working in partnership with Procter & Gamble to use cellulosic ethanol in North American Tide® laundry detergents.

The majority of the fuel produced at the Iowa facility are destined, however, for California, to fulfill the state’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard where the state has adopted a policy to reduce carbon intensity in transportation fuels. The plant also will serve as a commercial-scale demonstration of the cellulosic technology, where investors from all over the world can see firsthand how to replicate this model in their home regions.

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