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DuPont jumps into cellulosic ethanol game

December 3, 2012, Des Moines, Iowa - Industrial giant DuPont has jumped into the cellulosic ethanol game in a big way, with a groundbreaking ceremony on a $200-million plant here.

December 3, 2012
By Scott Jamieson


According to a report in the Des Moines Register, DuPont would have proceeded with the groundbreaking for its new
cellulosic ethanol plant even if the federal government had agreed to
waive the rule that requires ethanol demand, said James Collins,
president of DuPont Industrial Biosciences.

The groundbreaking starts construction for DuPont’s $200 million, 30
million-gallon-capacity refinery. It will be the United States' largest
cellulosic ethanol plant when it opens by mid-2014.

The new
refinery will use cornstalks and leaves left at harvest as feedstock,
finally showing a sign that long-awaited cellulosic ethanol can be a

Cellulosic ethanol is considered crucial to Iowa if the
state is to retain its position as the nation’s largest producer of
ethanol. The Renewable Fuel Standard, which is the basis for demand for
ethanol, effectively limits corn-fed ethanol production at 18 billion
gallons by 2020. The rest has to come from other sources, such as wood
biomass or cellulose such as crop residue or grasses.


ethanol’s many political problems has been the delay in producing
cellulosic, or leafy biomass. The delays are due largely to complexities
in a technology far different from corn ethanol production, which is
not far removed from old moonshine stills.

Would-be cellulosic
ethanol producers also must figure out the logistics of gathering and
delivering the massive amount of leafy materials, a far cry from the
simple delivery of corn to an ethanol plant that is identical to a
delivery to a grain elevator.

This year is likely to be the third
in a row when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will report that
the goals of the 2007 renewable fuels act won’t be met. Under the law,
refiners are expected to use 500 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol,
but only a tiny fraction of that has been produced.

“When a
company like DuPont, which has been in business for 200 years, breaks
ground, that means something,” said Monte Shaw, executive director of
the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association. Read the entire article here.

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