Biochemicals at a Crossroads as Cellulosic Ethanol Facility goes on Sale

The future of the biochemical industry became less certain last month, when two of the industry’s major players, DuPont and Beta Renewables announced that they are ‘pulling back from agricultural waste to ethanol’ technology. This has led many chemical suppliers and raw material manufacturers to wonder if cellulosic ethanol production is economically viable.

The fact that DuPont is trying to sell its Nevada, Iowa facility will come as a shock to many, as DuPont has long been a supporter of the use of plant waste as a chemical feedstock. As the chemical industry journal C&EN notes, the company has already invested, “more than $200 million [in the Iowa plant], which was intended to be the first of a string of facilities that would use DuPont enzymes and yeast to turn corn cobs, stems, and leaves into ethanol.”



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