DuPont Biofuels Vice President and General Manager John Ranieri told investors at an alternative energy conference that the company’s efforts to commercialize its biofuels technologies, including biobutanol and cellulosic ethanol, are on track.
At the Piper Jaffray Alternative Energy Symposium, which focused on industry and investment trends in solar, cleantech and biofuels, Ranieri reviewed global biofuels opportunities, the future of cellulosic ethanol and next generation biofuels, such as biobutanol, as replacements for gasoline transportation fuels.
“From our strong seeds and crop protection products offering for biofuels today to significant transformative opportunities in new biofuel technologies, I am confident in DuPont’s capabilities to meaningfully increase the use of renewable feedstocks with smaller environmental footprints in place of petroleum,” Ranieri said.
DuPont’s three-part strategy entails: (1) improving existing ethanol production through differentiated agricultural seed products and crop protection chemicals; (2) developing and supplying new technologies to allow conversion of cellulose to biofuels; and (3) developing and supplying next generation biofuels with improved performance.”
Improve Existing Ethanol Production: DuPont had more than $300 million in revenues in 2006 and growing at greater than 20 percent per year from seed and crop protection solutions that increase yield per acre and enhance ethanol yield of grain through biotechnology. For the ethanol industry, DuPont subsidiary Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc. offers more than 180 seed hybrids that are marketed through its IndustrySelect(R) program, bringing specialized grain traits that improve the efficiency of ethanol production.
Technology to Produce Cellulosic Biofuels: DuPont and the U.S. Department of Energy are jointly funding a research program to develop technology to convert corn stover into ethanol. The technology was licensed to Broin Companies, the nation’s largest dry mill ethanol producer, in October 2006. A 25 million gallon per year commercial-scale plant in Emmetsburg, Iowa, will begin production of cellulosic ethanol in the next four to six years. Ranieri outlined how the Integrated BioRefinery technology package will significantly increase the amount of ethanol per acre achievable by using corn grain and stover on the same amount of land.
Biobutanol Partnership with BP and Advanced Biofuels Pipeline: DuPont’s partnership with BP to develop biobutanol is based on its strategy to bring advanced biofuels to market to expand the use of biofuels in gasoline. Biobutanol will be the first product available and offers improved performance. It enhances ethanol-gasoline blends by lowering the vapor pressure when co-blended with these fuels; it resolves fuel stability issues in that biobutanol-gasoline blends can be distributed via the existing fuel supply infrastructure; it improves blend flexibility allowing higher biofuels blends with gasoline; and it improves fuel efficiency (better miles per gallon) compared to incumbent biofuels. Fleet testing of biobutanol has begun in the United States and the European Union. Biobutanol market testing is targeted for later this year in the United Kingdom. Additional global capacity will be introduced as the technology advances and market conditions dictate.