U.S. chemical giant DuPont is reportedly seeking partners for a cellulosic ethanol project.
Although details about the project are scarce, DuPont's Jan Koninckx, head of its bio-refinery business, told Dow Jones the company is currently in talks in with potential partners in the fuel and agribusiness sectors.
Koninckx told the business news services DuPont intends to have a minority stake in the venture and that once a suitable partner is found, its role will be to get production up and running.
DuPont has invested more than $200 million in a new cellulosic ethanol plant in in the U.S. state of Iowa.
That plant, due to open in 2014, is expected to produce as much as 30 million gallons of ethanol from corn-plant residue a year.
Last spring, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a federal-private collaboration with DuPont aimed at safeguarding natural resources on private lands used to supply bio-based feed-stocks for cellulosic ethanol production.
The joint agreement between USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and DuPont is setting voluntary standards for the sustainable harvesting of agricultural residues for renewable fuel, and supports rural job creation, additional income for farmers, bio-based energy development, and the safeguarding of natural resources and land productivity.
In March the government and DuPont signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) under which the government will provide conservation planning assistance for farmers who supply bio-based feed-stocks to bio-refineries as the industry begins to commercialize.
The conservation plan, written for individual operations, will ensure sustainable harvest of corn crop residues while promoting natural resource conservation and land productivity, the Agriculture Department said in a written statement.
A conservation plan is a voluntary document, written in cooperation with farmers, which helps them protect natural resources while promoting a farm's economic sustainability.
Through the MOU, DuPont will develop a process to work with cooperating farms on sustainable harvest practices that help keep soil in the field and out of rivers, streams and lakes; promote healthier soils which help reduce flooding through increased infiltration rates, and provide for the efficient use of nutrients.
DuPont's new facility in Iowa will be the first plant to fall under the strictures of the agreement.