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DuPont, the giant chemical company, has begun construction on what will become the first and largest cellulosic ethanol biorefinery in the world.
The $200 million facility will be constructed in Iowa and will convert corn stover, a mix of corn stalks and leaves that are left over after the corn is harvested, into more than 30 million gallons of ethanol each year. The solid waste that is left over from the process can also be used as an alternative fuel source in coal-fired power plants.
The corn stover will be collected from over 500 local farms within a 30 mile radius of the plant, and will be operational by mid-2014.
Cellulosic ethanol has struggled to grow as a fuel source as the poor economy has led investors to tighten their belts, or invest in more tried and tested technologies. Just last month BP announced that it was ending its plans to build a $350 million, 36 million gallon a year facility in Florida.
This does not mean that all have been scared away from the potential of this biofuel sector. Abengoa of Spain is continuing with its plans to build a 25 million gallon a year cellulosic ethanol biorefinery in Kansas, and the corn ethanol giant, Poet, is also in the process of building a 25 million gallon a year plant in South Dakota.
James Collins, the president of DuPont, said that they are “committed to continued productivity gains to drive costs down even further for the coming generations of plants, ones based on corn stover as well as other feedstocks.”
By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com
Joao is a writer for Oilprice.com