For years, ethanol producers have suggested that the next generation of biofuels and bioproducts will not be produced exclusively by new, stand-alone, greenfield facilities. Rather, they believed that conventional ethanol plants would be amongst the first producers of advanced and cellulosic biofuels via the adoption of synergistic “bolt-on” technologies. This vision became reality in 2015, as numerous corn ethanol plants worked to install or start up new processes allowing onsite production of everything from cellulosic ethanol to zein protein to renewable diesel.

Examples include:

    • Adkins Energy, LLC, near Lena, Illinois, installed the capacity to produce 2 million gallons of biodiesel per year using corn distillers oil extracted onsite.Construction of a zein protein extraction plant is under way at Big River Resources, LLC in Galva, Illinois. Zein is used as a feedstock for plastics and other industrial products.
    • Construction began in fall 2015 at Central MN Renewables in Little Falls, Minnesota to install Green Biologics Ltd.’s butanol and acetone production technology.
    • The CHS dry mill at Annawan, Illinois is adding a co-located 5 million gallon per year biodiesel facility that will use corn distillers oil as the feedstock.
    • East Kansas Agri-Energy, LLC in Garnett, Kansas is building a co-located facility that will use corn distillers oil to generate 3 million gallons of renewable diesel per year.
    • Pacific Ethanol, Inc. began production of cellulosic ethanol at its Stockton, California plant in late 2015.  The plant uses Edeniq, Inc.’s Pathway Technology to convert corn kernel fiber into nearly 1 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel annually.
    • Quad County Corn Processors near Galva, Iowa was the first conventional ethanol plant to produce cellulosic ethanol from corn kernel fiber in 2014. The plant uses Cellerate technology to produce 2 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel annually.
    • In late 2015, Redfield Energy, LLC near Redfield, South Dakota completed installation of ICM’s Fiber Separation Technology (FST), which allows the plant to improve efficiency and diversify coproduct streams.  E Energy Adams, LLC is also installing the FST process at its plant in Adams, Nebraska.


What is Advanced and Cellulosic Ethanol?

Cellulose refers to the material comprising the cell walls of any green plant and is the most common organic compound found on earth. Cellulosic ethanol is ethanol produced by turning the sugars in cellulose into alcohol fuel.  Advanced ethanol, by comparison, is sourced from non-cellulosic feedstocks including sugars and starches other than corn starch. All sources of ethanol will be required to provide the nation with the kind of energy choices we need.  The potential of cellulosic ethanol is enormous.  Sandia National Laboratory says that the U.S. could produce 75 billion gallons per year of cellulosic ethanol by 2030, more than half of today’s U.S. gasoline demand.  Dozens of companies are rapidly creating new technologies that will turn America’s waste products — garbage, wood chips, agricultural residue, corn stover, grasses, algae and more — into renewable fuel and other bio-based products.

Next Generation is Here Today

The year 2015 marked a seminal moment for cellulosic ethanol, as commissioning or production began at the nation’s three largest commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol facilities. Together, the three facilities have the ability to produce 75 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year when running at full capacity.

Abengoa’s facility in Hugoton, Kansas has the capacity to generate up to 25 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol annually from locally sourced agricultural residues.  The DuPont biorefinery in Nevada, Iowa will also use agricultural residues like corn stalks to produce up to 30 million gallons per year.  POET-DSM’s Project Liberty in Emmetsburg, Iowa has the capacity to produce 20 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year from corn residue. The idled INEOS Bio facility in Vero Beach, Florida has the ability to produce 8 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year from wood and vegetative waste.

Advanced Biofuels Business Council (ABBC)

The Advanced Biofuels Business Council (ABBC), formerly the Advanced Ethanol Council, was formed in 2011 in collaboration with the RFA and has quickly emerged as the leading voice for advanced and cellulosic ethanol. The Council focuses on market development and advancing and defending key policies to expand the industry.  Click HERE to learn more about the ABBC.