Chemical giant DuPont has started construction of a large-scale cellulosic ethanol biorefinery in Iowa capable of converting corn stalks and leaves into a biofuel that could be used in place of fossil fuels at some power plants.
The $200 million facility, which will be among the first and largest of its kind in the world, will produce more than 30 million gallons of ethanol annually using so-called corn stover, the remains of corn plants after the harvest, DuPont says.
The company plans to collect the stover from more than 500 local farmers within a 30-mile radius, and the plant could be operational as soon as mid-2014. DuPont plans to license the production system internationally and work on designs that will expand this aspect of the biofuel industry.
“We’re 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,” said James Collins, president of DuPont Industrial Biosciences.