Ethanol Blog

German Company Buys Nevada, Iowa, Cellulosic Ethanol Plant

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Staff Reporter
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Nevada, Iowa, farmers are expected to have a new market for corn stover after a German company announced plans to produce renewable natural gas at a now-former cellulosic ethanol plant. (Photo by Emily Unglesbee)

Nearly one year to the date after DowDuPont announced its intention to sell its cellulosic ethanol plant in Nevada, Iowa, the company has found a buyer for the 30-million-gallon plant -- a German company that produces renewable natural gas.

VERBIO North America Corp., a subsidiary of VERBIO Vereinigte BioEnergie AG, announced on Thursday it had agreed to terms with DowDuPont to acquire not only the plant but a portion of the corn stover inventory.

VERBIO did not provide details as to the amount of the transaction. However, the company said in a news release it expects to close on the purchase this month.

The company has plans to produce renewable natural gas at the site, using corn stover and other crop residues. Construction is scheduled to begin in spring 2019 with commercial production of renewable transportation fuel by summer 2020. This would be the company's first RNG facility built outside of Germany. Currently VERBIO is launching RNG production at similar plants in Schwedt and Pinnow, Germany. It's first such plant was built in 2014.

Greg Northrup, president of VERBIO North America, told DTN the company intends to sell most of its renewable natural gas produced in Nevadato the California low-carbon fuel standard market.

VERBIO produces biomethane and biofuels for the German market, producing about 27 million gallons of RNG, 140 million gallons of biodiesel and 87 million gallons of ethanol per year. The company focuses on developing and installing new technologies to produce first- and second-generation biofuels from biomass and crop residues.

On Nov. 2, 2017, DowDuPont announced plans to sell the plant nearly two years to the day after the company hosted a grand opening, as part of a plan company-wide to cut costs.

The $225 million cellulosic ethanol plant was expected to demand about 375,000 tons of corn stover from about 500 local farmers within a 30-mile radius of the plant.

In a news release from 2015, DuPont said it intended to sell cellulosic ethanol from the Nevada plant in California as part of the state's LCFS.

Claus Sauter, chief executive officer of VERBIO, said in a news release the Nevada, Iowa, location is ideal for the technology.

"The DuPont facility in Nevada, Iowa offers excellent infrastructure to construct our first RNG facility outside Germany," he said. "We can use part of the installed equipment for our production and there is a solid base of local farmers from whom to procure the raw materials. Once the plant is in operation, it offers the Nevada, Iowa, community new agricultural revenue streams, new employment opportunities and new sources of tax revenues,"

Jan Koninckx, global business director of biofuels at DuPont, said the Nevada community has been a good partner.

"We're very confident in VNA's ability to take over operations of the Nevada plant," he said. "This community has been very supportive during our time in Story County. We thank the many people who were instrumental to our operations, and we wish VNA well."

Following its merger with Dow in 2017, DuPont announced a strategic shift within the cellulosic biofuels market and began to seek a buyer for the biorefinery.

DuPont continues to participate in the overall biofuels market through specialty offerings, including both first- and second-generation biofuel enzymes and engineered yeast solutions.

Todd Neeley can be reached at todd.neeley@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter @toddneeleyDTN

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