Anyone keeping an eye on our Cellulosic RIN Volumes page will have noticed that it hasn’t been updated in a while. That’s not just laziness on our part- the glimmers of US cellulosic biofuel production that emerged this past winter tanked in the spring, and for three months in a row there was little or no generation of new cellulosic RINs. From what I can tell, most of the initial production last winter was coming from the KiOR facility in Mississippi, and that company’s subsequent financial issues seem to have taken them out of the picture for now.
However, there was finally some additional cellulosic RIN (~4000 gal worth) generation in July. I can’t help but wonder if that has something to do with this announcement:
The Emmetsburg, IA facility is the first of a group of three biorefineries in the 20 MGY range expected to come on line this year or early next, as described here previously, and the fact that royalty came out for the plant dedication underscores what a big deal this is. Different from KiOR, all three of these new facilities are based on biochemical conversion (pretreatment of lignocellulosic biomass to make the cellulose more accessible, followed by saccharification and fermentation to alcohol), and all use corn stover or other agricultural residues as feedstocks, rather than dedicated bioenergy crops or woody biomass. This is the first time this technology has been deployed at this scale in the US (and I think only the second time ever, after a similar facility in Italy last year), and the logistics are challenging- the facility has been stockpiling biomass for several years, and now has enough for ~5 months operation stored up. An additional general overview of the Project Liberty technology and facility is available here: Poet-DSM Project Liberty marks an energy milestone.