By OWEN FLETCHER
Chemical giant DuPont is seeking partners for joint ventures
in the production of cellulosic ethanol, a next-generation
biofuel, a DuPont official said.
"DuPont would take a minority stake and... we would
basically take an active role in setting production up" in the
joint ventures, which the company is discussing with parties in
the US, Southeast Asia, China, Brazil and Europe, Jan Koninckx,
DuPont's business director for biorefineries, said in an
interview this week.
He declined to name potential partners but said interested
parties include fuel companies and agribusinesses.
Ethanol made from corn kernels drove the expansion of the US ethanol industry
starting in the mid-2000s, as a federal mandate required
increasing amounts of the biofuel to be blended into motor
Ethanol producers at the time hoped future growth could be
driven by cellulosic ethanol, made from other biomass such as
the stalks of corn plants, since the next-generation fuel
satisfies another part of the federal renewable fuels mandate.
But development of cellulosic ethanol has lagged the pace once
expected, and little of it is now being produced.
Wilmington, Del.-based DuPont is investing more than $200
million to build a cellulosic ethanol plant in Nevada, Iowa,
that will produce ethanol from corn-plant residue left in
fields after farmers harvest their grain. DuPont expects the
facility to open next year.
The plant will be profitable based on its production of 30
million gal/year of ethanol, but it is also meant to
demonstrate the use at full scale of DuPont's cellulosic
production methods, Mr. Koninckx said. DuPont will seek further
revenue from licensing or partnerships.
Licensing agreements would include equipment and DuPont's
plant design, and DuPont would supply the enzymes needed to
produce the fuel, Mr. Koninckx said.
Dow Jones Newswires