DuPont: “Future Fuel” Cellulosic Ethanol Here Today

Steve MirshakCellulosic ethanol is not just a fuel of the future; it’s here today. And at the recent 8th Annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit held in Altoona, Iowa, Steve Mirshak from DuPont’s cellulosic division talked with Joanna about what this fuel will soon bring.

“This is a real fuel,” Steve said, pointing out that DuPont is on track to commercializing the world’s largest cellulosic ethanol facility in Nevada, Iowa this summer… a project worked on for nearly 15 years and will produce 30 million gallons a year. He went on to say that cellulosic ethanol has zero net carbon emissions, contributes to energy independence, and is great for economic development. Plus, Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) goals are being achieved today. “This is the second generation [of biofuels]. It’s here. We’ve been talking about it for a long time, and in 2014 it’s here.”

Steve said, though, the only thing that could stop the momentum now seems to be the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposal to cut the amount of ethanol and biodiesel to be blended into the Nation’s fuel supply.

“Clearly the policy debate in the United States is dampening investors’ commitment to build out this industry. We don’t need [our leaders in Washington] to change anything. We need Washington to reinforce their commitment to the [RFS]. With stable policy, we’ll see rapid growth [in the advanced biofuels industry], and we’ll meet the bi-partisan goals Congress already passed,” Steve said.

Listen to Joanna’s interview with Steve here: Steve Mirshak, DuPont

View the 2014 Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit photo album.

5 thoughts on “DuPont: “Future Fuel” Cellulosic Ethanol Here Today

  1. Not quite. The Nevada, IA facility is not running yet. And even if it runs rifgt off at its full design capacity of 30,000,000 gallons/year, that is a bit less than 2000 bbl/day – not a huge amount of ethanol. I am enthused about the new process, but please, let’s not get overenthusiastic. We do not need another hatchet job on TV, and there are many other critics eager to crow about any glitch or shortfall.

  2. If cellulosic ethanol is “here now” but depends on the federal RFS mandate, a tax credit of $1.01 per gallon is it” not here now”. Look at natural gas. It is penetrating electricity markets, transportation fuel markets, exports markets all by itself without USG intervention or financial assistance. Natgas is a serious fuel. Subsidized and mandated ethanol is not whatever the source.

  3. Great for economic development, really? If you can’t make it without major government subsidization and regulation that mandates its use, it is a failure.

  4. Railroads are also here now – OK, maybe old hat by now – but it’s worth remembering that railroads got built with a truly staggering subsidy – every other section along the entire route as rails pushed west. Same with canals – thge Erie Canal that opened the northern Midwest was “Clinton’s ditch” not one built by the vaunted US unfettered free enterprise system. Same with airlines, where the US Mail provided funding at a critical point, and many airport construction projects got government subsidies. Point is that very many things we take for granted today got significant sunsidies to help get them past what is fondly known as the “valley of death” where technology works, but capital is needed for it to become commercially viable. Since naural gas has been mentioned as a fuel that (now) will always be lower in cost than alternative energy, let me remind readers of the “Big Inch” and “Little Big Inch” pipelines built by the government – originally for oil and later used to bring natural gas to the Midwest and Northeast. Even natural gas got its subsidy!