DuPont opens world’s largest cellulosic ethanol plant, in Iowa: the full story in pictures

November 1, 2015 |
Iowa Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds was sporting a "Don't Mess with the RFS" campaign button at the DuPont plant opening

Iowa Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds, sporting a “Don’t Mess with the RFS” campaign button at the DuPont plant opening

DuPont dreamed it, thousands built it, now see it.

In Iowa, DuPont opened its 30 million gallon cellulosic ethanol plant in Nevada, IA — which becomes the world’s largest cellulosic biofuels refinery opened to date.

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, Iowa senior Senator Charles Grassley, Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds, and Congressman Steve King were the headliners for the opening ceremonies.

“Today, we fulfill our promise to the global biofuels industry with the dedication of our Iowa facility,” said William F. Feehery, president of DuPont Industrial Biosciences. “And perhaps more significantly, we fulfill our promise to society to bring scientific innovation to the market that positively impacts people’s lives. Cellulosic biofuel is joining ranks with wind and solar as true alternatives to fossil fuels, reducing damaging environmental impacts and increasing our energy security.”

In Asia, DuPont recently announced its first licensing agreement with New Tianlong Industry to build China’s largest cellulosic ethanol plant, and last fall a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was announced between DuPont, Ethanol Europe and the government of Macedonia to develop a second-generation biorefinery project. The company also is working in partnership with Procter & Gamble to use cellulosic ethanol in North American Tide® laundry detergents.

The majority of the fuel produced at the Nevada, Iowa, facility will be bound for California to fulfill the state’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard where the state has adopted a policy to reduce carbon intensity in transportation fuels. The plant also will serve as a commercial-scale demonstration of the cellulosic technology where investors from all over the world can see firsthand how to replicate this model in their home regions.


On hand for the proceedings, from left: Iowa Congressman Steve King, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, Governor Terry Branstad, Dupont Industrial Biosciences president William Feehery, and Iowa Senator Charles Grassley

500 local farmers will provide the annual 375,000 dry tons of stover needed to produce this cellulosic ethanol from within a 30-mile radius of the facility. In addition to providing a new revenue stream for these growers, the plant will create 85 full-time jobs at the plant and more than 150 seasonal local jobs in Iowa.


The Process


The How it Works video


Enzymes: The Layman’s Primer


Timelapse: Building the World’s Largest Cellulosic Ethanol Biorefinery


The Biomass Collection Story.

The Plant, in pictures

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Reaction from stakeholders

“Iowa has a rich history of innovation in agriculture,” said Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad. “Today we celebrate the next chapter in that story, using agricultural residue as a feedstock for fuel, which brings both tremendous environmental benefits to society and economic benefits to the state. The opening of DuPont’s biorefinery represents a great example of the innovation that is possible when rural communities, their government and private industry work together toward a common goal.”

The raw material used to produce the ethanol is corn stover – the stalks, leaves and cobs left in a field after harvest. The facility will demonstrate at commercial scale that non-food feedstocks from agriculture can be the renewable raw material to power the future energy demands of society. Cellulosic ethanol will further diversify the transportation fuel mix just as wind and solar are expanding the renewable options for power generation.

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