Verbio to buy DuPont cellulosic ethanol plant, convert it to RNG

By Erin Voegele | November 09, 2018

Roughly a year after it first announced plans to sell its cellulosic ethanol plant, DuPont Industrial Biosciences has reached an agreement to sell the facility to the U.S. subsidiary of German bioenergy producer Verbio Vereinigte BioEnergie AG.

On Nov. 8, Dupont and Verbio North America Corp. announced the two companies have reached terms for VNA to acquire the 30 MMgy facility located in Nevada, Iowa, along with a portion of its corn stover inventory. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to close in November.

A statement released by the companies indicates VNA intends to install facilities to produce renewable natural gas (RNG) made from corn stover and other cellulosic crop residues at the site. The plant will be Verbio’s third facility devoted to this cellulosic technology. The company commissioned its first such facility in Schwedt, Germany, in 2014, and its second facility in Pinnow, Germany, is currently being commissioned.

VNA plans to start construction on the Nevada RNG plant in the spring, with commercial production of renewable transportation fuel expected to begin during the summer of 2020.

“The DuPont facility in Nevada, Iowa offers excellent infrastructure to construct our first RNG facility outside Germany,” said Claus Sauter, CEO of VERBIO. “We can use part of the installed equipment for our production and there is a solid base of local farmers from whom to procure the raw materials. Once the plant is in operation, it offers the Nevada, Iowa, community new agricultural revenue streams, new employment opportunities and new sources of tax revenues.”

“We’re very confident in VNA’s ability to take over operations of the Nevada plant,” said Jan Koninckx, Global Business Director of Biofuels, DuPont. “This community has been very supportive during our time in Story County. We thank the many people who were instrumental to our operations, and we wish VNA well.”

DuPont broke ground on the Nevada ethanol plant in November 2012. The facility celebrated its grand opening in late October 2015. Just over two years later, on Nov. 2, 2017, the company announced plans to sell the plant. At that time, DuPont said that it was making a shift in how it participates in the cellulosic fuels market and had concluded it was in the company’s long-term interest to find a strategic buyer for the Nevada plant. While DuPont no longer produces cellulosic fuels, the company does continue to participate in the overall biofuels market through specialty offerings, including both first- and second-generation biofuel enzymes and engineered yeast solutions.

Verbio is a leading biofuel manufacturer in Germany. The company currently operates four production facilities producing approximately 27 million gallons of RNG, 140 million gallons of biodiesel, and 87 million gallons of ethanol annually. The company said it is focused on developing and installing new technologies to produce first and second generation biofuels from biomass and crop residues. A statement released by Verbio and DuPont on the Nevada plant acquisition notes that VNA plans to own, operate and finance multiple RNG plants in the U.S.