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  • By Lynda Kiernan-Stone, Global AgInvesting Media

DuPont Opens $225M Cellulosic Corn Ethanol Plant in Iowa

DuPont has officially opened its newest $225 million cellulosic ethanol plant in Nevada, Iowa which will produce ethanol from cornstalks, leaves, and cobs instead of the kernel as is most common in production methods.

DuPont has integrated new technologies into the plant, which is being billed as the largest cellulosic plant in the world. The company plans to use the same bacteria as distillers use to make tequila to produce 30 million gallons of ethanol per year as opposed to using yeast as is done across the wider industry.

The opening of the Iowa plant marks the beginning of an expansion for DuPont, which plans to expand the technology across the country and expand its uses across industries, however, although the plant will be in full production next year, DuPont is reluctant to estimate its exact output for 2016.

“Our goal is to replicate this process in other rural communities in the U.S. and around the world so that societies everywhere can realize the economic, environmental and energy security benefits of advanced renewable fuel," said William Feehery, president of DuPont Industrial Biosciences, which runs the Iowa plant.

The ethanol produced at the plant will not only be blended into fuel, but will be replacing the corn-kernel-based ethanol used in Tide laundry detergent to stabilize the detergent and improve product performance.

There are 200 biofuel plants in the U.S. – most of which use the corn kernel to make ethanol, and although there are a couple of cellulosic plants located in Kansas and Mississippi that use corn stove rasa feedstock, these plants have faced production challenges and have not met production expectations.

Meanwhile, in Washington DC the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed lowering biofuel requirements by 4 billion gallons this year, and by 5 billion next year due to a lack of infrastructure limiting distribution. Supporters of the higher renewable fuel standard counter-argue that the higher requirements are needed to force an improvement to infrastructure and drive investments in the sector.

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