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German company buys DuPont’s Iowa cellulosic plant

VNA intends to install facilities to produce renewable natural gas made from corn stover and other cellulosic crop residues at the site.

DuPont Industrial Biosciences (DuPont) and VERBIO North America Corp. (VNA), the U.S. subsidiary of leading German bioenergy producer VERBIO Vereinigte BioEnergie AG (VERBIO), have reached terms for VNA to acquire DuPont’s Nevada, Iowa-based cellulosic ethanol plant and a portion of its corn stover inventory.

Completion of the transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to occur in November. VNA intends to install facilities to produce renewable natural gas (RNG) made from corn stover and other cellulosic crop residues at the site. This would be VERBIO’s third production facility devoted to this cellulosic technology. In 2014, the company commissioned its first facility in Schwedt, Germany, and its second facility in Pinnow, Germany, is currently being commissioned.

VERBIO is a leading manufacturer in Germany's biomethane and biofuel market, running four production facilities that produce around 27 million gal. of RNG, 140 million gal. of biodiesel and 87 million gal. of ethanol per year. The company focuses on developing and installing new technologies to produce first- and second-generation biofuels from biomass and crop residues.

“The DuPont facility in Nevada, Iowa, offers excellent infrastructure to construct our first RNG facility outside Germany. 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,” VERBIO chief executive officer Claus Sauter said. "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, DuPont global business director of biofuels. “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.”

Following its merger with Dow in 2017, DuPont announced a strategic shift within the cellulosic biofuel market and began to seek a buyer for the biorefinery. DuPont continues to participate in the overall biofuel market through specialty offerings, including both first- and second-generation biofuel enzymes and engineered yeast solutions that improve yield and productivity for biofuel producers.

VNA is working on plans to start construction of the RNG plant in the spring of 2019 and to begin commercial production of renewable transportation fuel by the summer of 2020.

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