A cellulosic ethanol facility — expected to produce about 30 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year — opened on October 30 in Nevada, Iowa. DuPont celebrated the opening of its cellulosic ethanol plant, reportedly the world’s largest, with a ceremony including Iowa Gov. Terry Brandstad and other dignitaries.
The facility uses corn stover – the stalks, leaves and cobs left in a field after harvest — to produce ethanol. DuPont expects the facility to demonstrate at commercial scale that non-food feedstocks from agriculture can be the renewable raw material for renewable energy. DuPont uses high-tech enzymes to break down the chemical bonds in lignocellulosic material to produce sugars that can then be fermented to produce ethanol or processed to produce bioplastics or other high value chemicals. DuPont also is working on other non-food based feedstocks, including switchgrass, sugarcane bagasse, biomass sorghum and empty fruit bunch. According to DuPont, its farm-to-fuel process for cellulosic ethanol also offers a potential 90 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions as compared to gasoline.