A South Dakota company announced plans today (Monday) to seek a federal grant to use new technology to convert an Iowa ethanol plant to use corn waste to increase the plant’s production of ethanol. Jeff Broin (sounds like coin) is the C-E-O of Broin Companies.

Broin says Voyager Ethanol in Emmetsburg will be the first commercial-scale “cellulose to ethanol” production facility in the United States. Broin says the plan is being called “Project LIBERTY.” Broin says “Launch of an Integrated Biorefinery with Ecosustainable Technologies in Y-2009.” Broin says the plant will use advance technology created by the company to turn corn fiber and corn stover into ethanol.

The corn fiber and stover have been waste products from the ethanol process. Broin says the advancement of corn stover to ethanol production could have a significant impact on the ethanol market. He says project LIBERTY will expand the Emmetsburg plant from 50-million gallons of ethanol a year to 125-million gallons a year at a cost of 120-million dollars.

Broin says the plant will also use some of the waste material from the process to fuel its operation and reduced the plant’s energy cost. Broin says the results of the commercialization of the process will result in 11-percent more ethanol from a bushel of corn and 27-percent more ethanol from an acre of corn and 83-percent less energy needed to operate the plant. Broin says his company has applied for an 80-million dollar grant from the Department of Energy for the conversion, and will provide 120-million itself.

Broin says there is 160-million dollars available from the D-O-E and he believes that will go to one or two companies. Broin says the conversion would still go ahead without the federal grant, but says it would take much longer.

Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack says the LIBERTY plan should give the state an edge in winning the federal grant. Vilsack says converting an existing plant gives Iowa a head start on the competition because of the great demand on those who’re building new ethanol facilities. Vilsack asked if the state will give any financial help to the project..

Vilsack says the company has not specifically asked for state support. Vilsack says the state can sanction and approve the plan and encourage the congressional delegation to support the application for the federal grant. Vilsack says the state is supporting the plant already by helping expand the market for ethanol.

Vilsack says the state has taken aggressive efforts to encourage the sale and production of E-85 in Iowa, from encouraging more retailers to sell E-85, and encouraging auto manufacturers to produce more E-85 vehicles. Vilsack says the conversion of the plant will bring millions of dollars in investment into the state and help create new jobs too.