Leaders from DuPont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol (DDCE), University of Tennessee and Genera Energy cut the ribbon on a cellulosic ethanol demonstration facility in Vonore, Tenn. The 74,000-square-foot plant has started producing ethanol and will deliver low-cost, fully-integrated technology for commercial production of ethanol from agricultural residue and bioenergy crops, including corncobs and switchgrass.
The plant combines pretreatment technology based on DuPont’s advanced mild alkaline technology and low-cost enzyme technology for saccharification, based on Danisco’s protein engineering innovation and commercial scale enzyme production expertise. An innovative ethanologen based on DuPont Zymomonas technology delivers high performance sugars co-fermentation for optimal process and yields.
The facility in Vonore has capacity to produce 250,000 gallons of ethanol annually, though its focus is on optimizing technologies for large-scale production. It represents an investment of more than $50 million, including funding from UTBI and DDCE.
The project also integrates about a $100 million investment in proprietary research by DuPont and Danisco,intellectual property platforms and talent pools from both companies and DDCE’s commitment to pay operating costs not covered under UTBI.
The University of Tennessee’s Biofuels Initiative (UTBI) established a bioenergy crop research and production basis for the burgeoning industry and attracted DDCE to participate as an industrial partner in the development of the cellulosic ethanol biorefinery. UTBI, with the support of Genera Energy, is also establishing a supply chain for the development of fuel.
The University of Tennessee Biofuels Initiative is the only fully integrated program that is working with farmers and agricultural industry to reliably supply the necessary feedstock so biorefineries can produce plentiful, affordable, renewable and sustainable fuels.—Kelly Tiller, CEO of Genera Energy and director of external operations for the UT Office of Bioenergy Programs
Tiller said plans are for Tennessee farmers to place an additional 4,000 acres of switchgrass into production this spring, bringing the total production in the state to nearly 7,000 acres of the dedicated energy crop.