California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard Serving as Benchmark for DuPont’s Cellulosic Ethanol Plant
DuPont opened the doors to the largest cellulosic ethanol plant in the world on Oct. 30. Iowa Gov. Terry Brandstad and other dignitaries celebrated the opening of the Nevada, Iowa-based biorefinery that will produce 30 million gallons of fuel-grade ethanol per year. It’s considered one of the cleanest fuels in world, reducing carbon emissions by 90% compared to traditional fossil fuels.
During the launch of the biorefinery, DuPont cited California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard as a measure to follow. Steve Ogle, the cellulosic ethanol commercial leader for DuPont, says that the federal government’s Renewable Fuel Standard, enacted in 2005, initially set the foothold for biofuels to move forward for DuPont and other biofuels producers. DuPont and other companies have asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to adopt “policy stability” and to avoid fluctuating volume targets for biofuels. More recently, LCFS has become the standard bearer that several states and Canadian provinces are adopting, Ogle said.
The LCFS was adopted in California in 2009 and is a performance-based regulation that requires regulated parties (fuel producers and importers to California) to reduce the carbon intensity of their fuel mix by at least 10% by 2020. The program incentivizes the adoption of low-carbon fuels based on its calculation of the fuelʼs lifecycle emissions.
Biofuels in Global Markets
Decision makers in global markets are also looking for uniformity and stability in government policies – and they do follow what takes place in the U.S., Ogle said.
The DuPont cellulosic ethanol plant will serve as a commercial-scale demonstration of the cellulosic technology. Investors from all over the world can observe how DuPont has succeeded in advanced biofuels and the possibility of replicating this model in their home regions, according to the company.
DuPont recently announced its first licensing agreement with New Tianlong Industry to build China’s largest cellulosic ethanol plant. Last year, a Memorandum of Understanding was announced between DuPont, Ethanol Europe, and the government of Macedonia to develop a second-generation biorefinery project.
DuPont has been able to work with partners in the U.S. and global markets from the beginning to the end of the process, Ogle said. That can start with following DuPont’s guidelines on producing cellulosic ethanol from corn stover, which are the stalks, leaves, and cobs left in a field after harvest; adopting enzymes in production, which are evolving into their next-generation versions; and tapping into DuPont’s operations and marketing experience.
What End Users Think
While LCFS is an effective industry standard, DuPont is finding interest in cellulosic ethanol well beyond California, Ogle said. End users are analyzing the possibility of using cellulosic ethanol in E10 blends, E85, and using blender pumps for other blend levels. Other engines can be designed by OEMs for other specific compression ratios, such as E20 or E30, Ogle said.
OEMs are also concerned about policy stability, according to Ogle. They have access to the technologies to manufacture blended biofuel engines, but need to see government policy stability to have confidence in their investments.
Market conditions are different today compared to five years ago, when several start-up companies weren’t able to survive in the biofuels market, he said. End users have more confidence in the fuel with companies like DuPont and Poet-DSM bringing their capabilities to cellulosic ethanol. “It’s not just a concept anymore,” Ogle said.
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Source: DuPont with Fleets & Fuels follow-up.