DDCE begins second year of stover collection program

By Kris Bevill | July 07, 2011

The second year of DuPont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol LLC’s corn stover collection program is under way in Iowa as the company prepares to construct Project Blackhawk - a 25 MMgy stover-to-ethanol plant which will be located adjacent to the 55 MMgy corn-fed Lincolnway Energy LLC plant in Nevada, Iowa. The research program is a collaborative effort among DDCE, Des Moines, Iowa-based Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont-owned seed developer and supplier, and Iowa State University. The program is focused on the collection, transport and storage of stover and developing the best model for supplying stover to commercial-scale biorefineries.

Recent studies have indicated that the success of stover and other ag residue-based ethanol projects will rely heavily on the participation of area farmers. It is also believed that the majority of farmers may be willing to provide ag residues to ethanol facilities, but only if they do not have to harvest or transport the materials. Jennifer Hutchins, marketing and communications director for DDCE, said the company is working closely with local corn producers and will use custom harvesters to collect and bale the stover. Farmers will be responsible only for notifying the custom crews after the grain has been harvested and allowing them access to the fields. Storage of stover continues to be experimented with as part of the collection program in order to determine the best conditions and techniques.

After months of negotiations and review, DDCE announced on June 28 that it will construct its first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol facility in Nevada, Iowa. Several Iowa communities were considered as possible locations and all offered competitive incentive packages, according to the company, but Nevada was ultimately chosen because it met all of the project’s business needs. DDCE’s ultimate goal is to license its cellulosic ethanol production technology to other producers.

In February, the Iowa Power Fund Board approved a $9 million grant for Project Blackhawk in exchange for the promise of 60 full-time jobs at the facility for at least six years following the project’s completion. DDCE also agreed to match more than $226 million in cash, bringing the project’s total cost to more than $235 million. A groundbreaking date for the facility has not been determined, but the estimated start-up is slated for 2013 and construction of the facility is expected to require about 18 months.

Nevada is located in the center of Iowa, fewer than 40 miles north of Des Moines. Emmetsberg is located about 135 miles northwest of Nevada and is expected to become home to another commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant. Poet plans to break ground on its highly anticipated 25 MMgy corn cob-to-ethanol plant there later this fall, but has stated its construction plans depend on the approval of a federal loan guarantee which is expected soon.