Dupont last week opened the world’s largest cellulosic ethanol plant in Iowa. The plant was built to process agricultural waste mainly being corn stover (harvest residue – leaves, husks, cobs and stalks). Dupont report that manufacturing ethanol from waste cellulosic streams is difficult and will unlikely to be competitive with conventional oil until the price of oil is back at $70-80 barrel.
Capital costs for the build was reported as being US$225m (AU$315m) for a 30 million gallons (110 million litres) which is about 3 times the cost of a conventional ethanol plant.
The technology is expected to deliver a fuel that produces 90% fewer greenhouse gas emissions as compared to conventional petrol. Using the waste also has the potential to add another income stream for farmers and provide further resilience to the agricltural sector. Investors however are still cautious, as they search for improved market certainty amidst the debate about the future of the RFS.
Jan Koninckx, DuPont’s global head of biofuels, is very positive about the future however describing the opening of the plant as an “historic day in technology…… that will reform the transport energy sector”. The Nevada plant is seen as the first plant of many yet to come
Adapted from original article on Farm News