A Danish company sees a green future for the United States. At a time when some grain ethanol plants are struggling to survive, Novozymes broke ground for a $160-to-$200 million plant at Blair that will make enzymes for the bio-refining business.
The company announced this week it is doubling the size of the previously-announced plant. The City of Blair and the State of Nebraska are both kicking in $800,000 to help with the necessary infrastructure. The Crown Prince and Princess of Denmark, Gov. Dave Heineman, and many local officials were on hand for the ribbon-cutting and tree-planting.
"We expect strong growth for first and second generation fuel ethanol, and we have to be ready to deliver the required quantities of enzymes to support such growth," said Lars Hansen, president of Novozymes North America.
Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman shakes hands with Denmark’s Crown Prince Frederik: also shown are Crown Princess Mary Elizabeth, and Lars Hansen, president of Novozymes North America.
Enzymes are proteins that speed up chemical reactions. They are made by bacteria and fungi. In addition to enzymes that convert the starch in grain to sugar so that it can be fermented into ethanol, Novozymes' Blair facility will produce second-generation enzymes for cellulosic ethanol production from grasses, crop residue, corn cobs, wood chips.
The future plant is located on the edge of the Cargill corn refining campus, at Blair, which consists of a wet-milling plant and several manufacturing plants, operated by several different companies, making use of corn milling byproducts to make other high-value products. The Novozymes plant will create about 100 jobs by the time it is ready to open in 2010 or 2011.
Danish companies are among the leaders in making bio-enzymes. The government of Denmark has been striving since the 1970s oil crisis to reduce its dependence on foreign energy. About 30% of Denmark's nation's energy consumption now comes from renewable sources.