Iowa Aims for Next-Gen Biofuels Leadership: 18 Hot Projects
by Jim Lane (Biofuels Digest) …In our investigations in Iowa this week, we noted 6 trends worth carefully watching, which take us from opportunities with existing feedstocks to exotic newcomers like algae.
Our thesis now is essentially unchanged from 2010, when we published our 10-Part Bioenergy Project of the Future overview – the existing ethanol and biodiesel fleets represent the near-term opportunity to add capacity through production efficiencies, plant conversions (such as converting from ethanol to biobutanol), cellulosic biofuels bolt-ons, or symbiosis (where the residues of one biofuels process become the feedstock for another).
Selected first-gen expansion opportunities Last spring, Cargill Corn Milling president Alan Willits affirmed that the company is planning to spend $200 million to expand and retrofit their corn processing facility in Fort Dodge Iowa.
…On the biodiesel side, Ag Processing last May re-started the mothballed 60 million gallon per year biodiesel plant formerly known as East Fork Biodiesel in Algona.
…Corn oil powers biodiesel hopes One of the major new feedstocks being integrated into biodiesel is corn oil from the ethanol plants that are abundant throughout the State.
...Cellulosic biofuels arriving It’s not well known, but Iowa is the US leader in cellulosic biofuels projects that have finalized their financing, with three now underway: Fiberight’s project in Blairstown, the POET Liberty project in Emmetsburg, and the the Dupont Cellulosic project in Navada.
…Biobutanol conversions One of the biggest trends in recent years has been the growing momentum in converting fiorst-gen corn ethanol plants to biobutanol.
…Gevo has completed one conversion, at Luverne, MN, and is currently commissioning the plant.
Meanwhile, Butamax has enrolled 11 ethanol plants in its early adopters program, and five are in Iowa.
...Biobased products The biobased revolution is everywhere, and there too Iowa has focused its efforts on providing and maintaining leadership. The signature project to date has been the Metabolix project in Clinton, which is commercializing the production of Mirel, a family of high performance bioplastics which are biobased and biodegradable alternatives to many petroleum based plastics.
…Opportunities in algae Perhaps the most fascinating new technology in late development today in Iowa is the BioProcess Algae project, co-located at the Green Plains Renewable Energy plant in Shenandoah, in the far southwest corner of the state.
The company is now in the process of upgrading to a 5-acre demonstration of its modular technology – which is expected to be the final step before active commercialization at Shenandoah and other sites.
…Other technologies of note …FarmMax’s Residue Recovery System is a cost-effective, single-pass biomass harvesting system. FarmMax has been hard at work developing a combine that can really do it all – adds the cob collection and processing right into the process – a single-pass system, as opposed to the two-pass systems that are being deployed by POET Biomass, which goes after the cobs and stover once the corn is picked up.
Meanwhile, Iowa-based Kelderman Manufacturing announced last April that it is building the largest bale picking truck (BPT) in the world for the Kansas Alliance for Biorefining and Bioenergy in an attempt to reduce biomass transport costs to make cellulosic ethanol production more profitable. READ MORE