DuPont: Converting Biomass to Cellulosic Ethanol

Innovation created by: DuPont

Presentation written by: GUAN JIAHUI, guandreamhigh@gmail.com

Presentation supervised by: Assoc. Prof. Dr. Elena M. BARBU, elena.barbu@univ-grenoble-alpes.fr

 

Introduction

DuPont opened the doors to the largest cellulosic ethanol plant in the world. DuPont facility is a blueprint for the cellulosic ethanol industry, proving at commercial scale that non-food feedstocks from agriculture can be a commercially-viable, renewable raw material to power the future energy demands of society.

  1. About DuPont

DuPont is a science and technology materials production company with a global reach.

1.1 Rewards

DuPont Performance Materials Wins Global JEC Innovation Award (2017) In collaboration with Armageddon Energy and EconCore for innovation using composite materials.

Green Supplier of the Year (2016) Yazaki Names DuPont as 2016 Green Supplier of the Year

1.2 The strategy of Dupont

DuPont bases its business model on innovation driven by science and technology, and because of this the company’s response to climate change and the direction that its innovation is taking is instructive. The company was at the front line of the worldwide move to reduce the production of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in the early 1990s. Unlike other companies, notably ExxonMobil, that has been fighting against regulation, DuPont proactively established several external emissions trading programs, including the Chicago Climate Exchange, the U.K. Emissions Trading Scheme, and Canada’s emerging trading system.

DuPont’s active participating in establishing these schemes has helped it generate cash flow (from selling emission quotas) to offset against the cost of implementing the emissions reduction schemes. DuPont has also made significant efficiency savings – $2 billion through increased energy efficiency and $10-15 million annually through use of renewable energy.

According to UK-based CSR consultancy, Article 13, DuPont’s innovations in the field of climate change now present the company with an opportunity: DuPont is starting to realize new commercial opportunities through factoring in climate change considerations throughout its business -what the company calls it’s ‘climate and the value chain’ work. With energy prices continuing to rise, and climate change routinely at the top of the political agenda, DuPont have recognized the growing market for technology that reduces climate impacts (Article 13, 2006).

 

  1. Opening the largest cellulosic ethanol plant

As an example of such innovations, on October 30, 2015, DuPont opened the doors to the largest cellulosic ethanol plant in the world. The DuPont biorefinery, located in a prime agricultural location in central Iowa, is powered by corn stover—the leftover stalks and leaves of the corn plant—and will produce 30 million gallons of fuel-grade ethanol each year. Cellulosic ethanol is one of the cleanest-burning fuels on the planet, reducing carbon emissions by 90% over traditional fossil fuels.

More than just a biorefinery, the DuPont facility is a blueprint for the cellulosic ethanol industry, proving at commercial scale that non-food feedstocks from agriculture can be a commercially-viable, renewable raw material to power the future energy demands of society. It marks the dawn of a new era in energy production, and delivers new opportunities for agriculture – both in the U.S. and around the world.

 

  1. Why is it responsible and strategic?

3.1 The reason of being strategic

The reason of being strategic is that it would change the model of fuel supply and can be copied by different countries. By using agricultural residue as a feedstock for fuel, DuPont’s achievement provides the technology that will transform the U.S. fuel supply enabling a transition to fulfill the original cellulosic ethanol volume targets as Congress intended when it passed the Renewable Fuel Standard, a regulation established in 2005 to encourage growth and investment in sustainable fuel solutions. The majority of the fuel produced at the Nevada, Iowa, facility will be bound for California to fulfill the state’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard where the state has adopted a policy to reduce carbon intensity in transportation fuels. The plant also will serve as a commercial-scale demonstration of the cellulosic technology where investors from all over the world can see firsthand how to replicate this model in their home regions.

3.2 The reason of being responsible

The reasons of being responsible are providing new work opportunities and reducing carbon. Vital to the supply chain and the entire operation of the Nevada biorefinery are close to 500 local farmers, who will provide the annual 375,000 dry tons of stover needed to produce this cellulosic ethanol from within a 30-mile radius of the facility. In addition to providing a brand-new revenue stream for these growers, the plant will create 85 full-time jobs at the plant and more than 150 seasonal local jobs in Iowa. This biorefinery is the world’s largest cellulosic ethanol plant, with the capacity to produce 30 million gallons per year of clean fuel that offers a 90 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions as compared to gasoline. Cellulosic biofuel is joining ranks with wind and solar as true alternatives to fossil fuels, reducing damaging environmental impacts and increasing our energy security

According to Article 13 (2006), “DuPont’s analysis of its value chain in terms of climate change impacts is a model that others could follow.” The value chain analysis that DuPont developed is not only helping them tackle climate change in their business, but it is also helping to address the global warming issue at a global level, while also making DuPont’s business safer and more profitable in the medium to long term.

 

References

http://www.prweb.com/releases/dupont-industrial-biosci/cellulosic-nevada-iowa/prweb13053919.html

Dupont (2015), “Sustainability progress report”.

http://www.dupont.com/corporate-functions/our-company.html