Nevada DuPont facility opening today

Source: By Grayson Schmidt, Staff Writer, Ames Tribune • Posted: Friday, October 30, 2015

Nevada will soon be home to the world’s largest cellulosic ethanol plant after DuPont officially opens their brand new facility today.

According to Plant Operations Manager Terraun Jones, the new facility will not only impact the biofuel industry, but will also boost the local economy by bringing in 90 permanent jobs at the site, and 150 temporary jobs associated with corn stover (corn cobs, leaves and stalks) gathering operation.

“This is generating permanent jobs, and we’re employing Iowa born-and-raised employees to come in and help operate the facility,” Jones said. “We’re contributing to the overall economic viability of the state of Iowa.”

The new $225 million facility is a second-generation ethanol plant, meaning that it uses the residue left over in the fields, whereas previous generations used corn, wheat, or direct food supply. And aside from being the largest cellulosic ethanol plant in the world, it will also be among the first commercial-scale cellulosic biorefineries in the world, converting corn stover into roughly 30 million gallons of ethanol annually.

“We’ve had a lot of participation and support from the state of Iowa to be able to accomplish this,” Jones said. “This plant is a culmination of all that effort to be able to create a renewable fuel basically from the residue left over on the ground after a harvest.”

Jones said that the actual building of the facility started in March 2013, but the research that went into the decision to construct the plant took much longer.

“This has been a culmination of about 10 years of research and development going into the cellulosic ethanol space,” Jones said.

According to DuPont, the chemical giant is collaborating with more than 500 local farmers to gather, store and deliver 375,000 dry tons of corn stover each year that will be harvested from 190,000 acres of farmland within 30 miles of the plant. Close proximity to Iowa State University will also aide in further research, collaboration, and innovation.

And with other biofuel plants across the state, ISU Bioeconomy Institute Deputy Director Jill Euken said that having this new plant in Nevada will only add to the impact that this industry has on the state.

“We have ethanol plants scattered all over state of Iowa, so it’s had a tremendous impact on the state economy,” Euken said. “If you look at what’s happened in the U.S., it’s been significant as well, but Iowa has been the leader by far.”

According to Euken, the bioeconomy has added more than $13 billion to the state economic output, and has created and supported almost 50,000 jobs in Iowa. But she said that advanced biofuels have the potential to contribute an additional $18 billion to Iowa’s economy and add hundreds more jobs.

ISU faculty alone have attracted over $100 million from industry and federal government to do bio-based research, education, and outreach, and more than 800 graduates have been hired into the bioeconomy.

“(The bioeconomy) has also had a tremendous impact on Iowa State University,” Euken said.

With this new facility officially opening Friday, Euken and Jones hope that more people in Story County and the rest of Iowa understand just how important the biofuel industry is to the state.

“Around 50 years ago we started looking at making ethanol out of corn, and now here we are being able to make ethanol out of the residue left over on the ground,” Jones said. “To me, this is a significant accomplishment of people putting their minds into decreasing the dependency on fossil fuels and increasing renewable energy, and doing so without impacting the food supply.”

The grand opening event is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Friday at the DuPont Cellulosic Ethanol plant in Nevada. The event will include speakers such as Gov. Terry Branstad, Lt. Gov. Kim Richards, Delaware Sen. Chris Coons, Rep. Steve King and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey. Following the ceremony, those in attendance are invited to a luncheon, and have a look at the harvest equipment. Facility tours will also be offered to provide guests a first-hand look at the world’s largest cellulosic biorefinery.