During an event at the National Press Club today, representatives of DuPont, POET-DSM, Abengoa Bioenergy and Quad County Corn detailed their progress toward launching commercial scale production of cellulosic ethanol this year, but also warned that the continued growth of this industry is at significant risk because of the U.S. EPA’s proposal to gut the renewable fuel standard and increase the amount of oil in gasoline.
“Cellulosic ethanol is no longer the fuel of the future, it’s a fuel that will be produced at commercial scale this year – a fuel that will be increasingly important to meeting our transportation needs unless the EPA or Congress gives in to the demands of the oil industry,” said Aaron J. Whitesel, Senior Manager for Government Affairs at DuPont.
Listen to Audio of the National Press Club Event:
“Producing biofuels from crop residue is an enormous opportunity for U.S. consumers to have access to even more clean, renewable ethanol,” said POET Vice President of Corporate Affairs Doug Berven. “In addition, this process provides farmers with a new revenue crop from land that is already in production. If the EPA allows this industry access to the fuel market, there will be enormous benefits for America’s economy, environment and national security.”
“The innovative process we are pioneering in Galva, Iowa can be a model for the rest of the country as we build a whole new cellulosic ethanol industry in America,” said DelayneJohnson, CEO of Quad County Corn Processors. “Gutting the Renewable Fuel Standard, however, could derail the momentum we have achieved and create uncertainty that will dramatically slow the adoption of this important technology.”
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“Producing fuel from corn stalks or agricultural waste means a dramatic reduction in carbon dioxide and other harmful pollutants in traditional gasoline, and it opens up an almost limitless source of potential feedstock for clean, renewable fuel,” said Chris Standlee, Executive Vice President for Global Affairs of Abengoa Bioenergy. “The EPA’s proposal to lower the amount of renewable fuel in gasoline, however, will make it far harder for companies to invest in the next phases of cellulosic ethanol production and leave us more dependent on imported oil.”
DuPont -- Nevada Site Cellulosic Ethanol Facility
Location: Nevada, Iowa
Operational Date: Q4 2014
Total investment: Over $200 million
Feedstock: Corn Stover
Capacity: 30 million gallons /year
DuPont is investing over $200 million to construct a commercial scale cellulosic biorefineryin Nevada, Iowa, that will be fueled by agricultural residue harvested from a 30 mile radius around the facility. It will be one of the first and largest advancedbiorefineries in the world, helping to secure U.S. leadership in this innovative new technology while spurring additional private investment in the industry.
To supply this 30 million gallon per year facility, DuPont is also building an entirely new, fully sustainable supply chain for corn stover, the stalks and leaves left over after corn harvest. DuPont’s stover harvest program is a highly collaborative endeavor, involving experts in the field of agronomy from DuPont’s Pioneer division, Iowa State University and the USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) working in conjunction with custom harvest equipment manufacturers and hundreds of local farmers.
DuPont remains committed to the sector, but has indicated that the uncertainty created by the EPA’s proposed changes in the Renewable Fuel Standard – or any future Congressional action to undermine the RFS – has already slowed investor interest here in the US and worries that regulatory uncertainty will push future investment overseas.
Abengoa -- Bioenergy Hugoton Cellulosic Ethanol Facility
Location: Hugoton, Kansas
Operational Date: Q2 2014
Total investment: $500 million
Feedstock: Corn stover, wheat straw, milo stubble and prairie grasses
Capacity: 25 million gallons/year plus 21 Megawatts of renewable electricity
Abengoa's Hugoton plant has the capacity to convert 300,000 dry tons of agricultural residues such as corn stover and wheat straw into 25 million gallons of ethanol and 21 Megawatts of renewable electricity. The biomass boiler and electric generation system successfully commenced operation and transferred power to the grid in December of 2013, and the ethanol portion of the facility is beginning the commissioning process now, with first production expected in May or June 2014. Abengoa's same proprietary technology is also being used to produce cellulosic ethanol from municipal solid waste at a pilot plant in Spain which started operations in July 2013.
Abengoa intends to offer licenses and contracts to interested parties covering the full range of construction and operation of cellulosic ethanol facilities, utilizing Abengoa's unique capabilities and expertise in all aspects of this new industry. Abengoa can provide every aspect from process design and engineering to EPC construction, and from supply of proprietary enzymes and specialized harvest techniques to operations and marketing of the completed products from the facility.
The market certainty originally provided by the RFS has resulted in commercial scale deployment of the cellulosic ethanol industry that will be experienced this year. Abengoa is hopeful that the EPA avoids any regulatory actions that will unnecessarily dampen the market enthusiasm and job creation that should follow this pivotal year of commercialization.
POET-DSM Project Liberty
Location: Emmetsburg, Iowa
Operational Date: June 2014
Total investment: $250 million
Feedstock: Corn cobs, leaves, husk and stalks
Capacity: 25 million gallons/year
POET-DSM’s Advanced Biofuels’ Project LIBERTY is a $250 million cellulosic bioethanol plant that will use corn cobs, leaves, husk and some stalk to produce 25 million gallons of ethanol per year at full operation. The plant, which is scheduled to be completed in the second quarter of 2014, is sited next to a grain ethanol plant – POET Biorefining – Emmetsburg – in order to take advantage of synergies in staff, infrastructure and experience. It will draw its feedstock from a 30-40-mile radius and use approximately 25% of the available crop residue.
At the event, Berven announced that POET-DSM has begun aggressively marketing their process and technology package for licensing by other ethanol producers in the U.S. and around the world.
Quad County Corn Adding Cellulosic Ethanol, or ACE
Location: Galva, Iowa
Operational Date: June 2014
Total investment: $9 Million
Feedstock: Corn Kernel Fiber
Phase I Capacity: 2 million gallons/year (Cellulose)
Phase II Capacity: 1.75 million gallons/year (Hemi-Cellulose)
Total Capacity: 3.75 million gallons/year
Quad County Corn Processors (QCCP) is in the final stages of construction of its Adding Cellulosic Ethanol (ACE) bolt on facility in Galva, Iowa. Construction is anticipated to be complete in May 2014 with production beginning in June 2014.
ACE is a bolt on technology that converts corn kernel fiber into cellulosic ethanol. The process also increases an ethanol processing facilities distillers oil yield by 250% and creates a higher protein feed product for the livestock industry.
QCCP recently announced that Syngenta has an exclusive license to market the ACE technology to ethanol plants in the United States and Canada. The existing dry grind ethanol facilities in the United States have the potential to create over 1.5 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol and 2 billion gallons of biodiesel from corn by adopting the ACE technology.