Iowa cellulosic ethanol plant will be world’s largest


Corn from a farm in Perkins, Iowa. (Don Graham/Flickr)
Corn from a farm in Perkins, Iowa. (Don Graham/Flickr)
KC McGinnis | November 3, 2015

A $225 million DuPont plant in Nevada will be the largest of its kind in the world, according to DuPont.

The plant, which opened Friday with appearances by both U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley and Rep. Steve King, will produce cellulosic ethanol, a biofuel that uses stover, the inedible parts of the plant, instead of the grain itself: stalks, cobs, leaves and perhaps even other plants like miscanthus. According to the Associated Press DuPont hopes to produce 30 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year at the plant.

 

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 requires the use of cellulosic biomass increase to 16 billion gallons by 2022 as part of the Renewable Fuel Standard. The fuel, which has long involved a much more complex and difficult process than traditional ethanol, may benefit farmers by allowing them to sell additional byproducts from their fields. Most importantly, the fuel produces 90 percent lower greenhouse gas emissions over its life cycle than petroleum.

However, common criticisms to the Renewable Fuel Standard may still apply to the DuPont plant, as it is yet unclear if the plant will be completely reliant on corn stover, increasing Americans’ dependence on and expansion of corn to the detriment of biodiversity and water quality.

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