Aerial view of the plant.

Aerial view of the plant.

What’s billed as the world’s largest cellulosic ethanol plant is opening this morning in the central Iowa town of Nevada.

While most of Iowa’s 40-some other ethanol plants use the kernels of corn to produce fuel, DuPont’s Jan Koninckx says this Story County plant will use only biomass.

“We don’t use grain,” Koninckx says. “Instead, we use what is left in the field after the harvest, the stalks and the leaves of the plant. We collect this in an area of 30 to 40 miles around the plant in collaboration with 400 of the most innovative and entrepreneurial farmers in the Nevada area.”

Koninckx, the company’s global business director of advanced biofuels, says the new facility employ 85 workers full-time in addition to 150 seasonal workers.

A bale of stover that's turned into ethanol.

A bale of stover that’s turned into ethanol.

He says it will also produce more ethanol from cellulose than any other factory on the planet. “This plant has a capacity of 30 million gallons and to make that, we will use around 375,000 tons of corn stover,” Koninckx says. The price tag on the massive new facility is not being revealed, but he offered something of a hint.

“We’ve invested hundreds of millions of dollars in this plant and generally, in the technology and in the demonstration of that technology leading up to the plant,” Koninckx says. “It’s an investment for DuPont that allows us to really reform the transportation energy sector with cleaner, renewable and reliable fuel.”

He says the fuel produced at the plant will be 90 percent cleaner than gasoline, adding, it offers 90 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions compared to petroleum.

Photos courtesy of Dupont.