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Cellulosic ethanol requiring industry effort off the drawing board

After years of research and planning, the ethanol industry finally appears to be turning the corner on cellulosic ethanol. Two large CE  plants are set to open in Iowa in 2014, and other manufacturing facilities could begin construction soon after. AGCO’s Glenn Farris talks about the effort that have gone into making cellulosic ethanol a viable product in this interview at AGCO’s media event at this year’s Farm Progress Show in Decatur, Ill.

Farris, who has traveled all over the country in recent years, directing research projects on how to bale and handle cellulosic materials, says agronomists are finding that not only will removing corn stover from corn fields help provide feedstock for ethanol, but it can also help growers on plant corn-on-corn increase their yields by 7 percent to 10 percent.

Determining how to convert cellulosic materials into ethanol took a lot of research, he says. But the task of handling large amount of biomass, removing it from the field, storing it and then transporting it to the plant for processing has taken a tremendous amount of planning and experimentation. The DuPont plant in Nevada, Iowa, is expected to require 350,000 dry tons of biomass when it opens in 2014. That number could rise to 1 million tons in 2015 and following years.

“When growers begin harvesting, baling, stacking and storing the corn stover for the plant in Nevada, it will require about 250 new pieces of equipment to be moved into the area for the six to eight weeks it’s expected to take to remove the stover,” says Farris.

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