Three cellulosic ethanol plants have been under construction, and the smallest one, which is producing cellulosic ethanol as a byproduct of corn ethanol production is now in operation.

Quad County Corn Processors at Galva, Iowa, began producing ethanol at commercial scale this week with the goal of producing 2 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol a year, according to a Des Moines Register article. The cellulosic ethanol production system is an add-on to the main corn ethanol plant, which can produce 35 million gallons of corn ethanol a year. The cellulosic ethanol “converts the kernels’ corn fiber into cellulosic ethanol.”

Two large-scale cellulosic ethanol plants in Iowa still under construction will produce their ethanol from corn cobs, husks and stalks (corn stover). DuPont Danisco is building its plant near a corn ethanol production facility west of Nevada, and Poet-DSM is building its plant near Emmetsburg also next to a corn ethanol plant.

The Des Moines Register reported that Quad County Corn Processors spent about $9 million to build the add-on cellulosic system, of which nearly $6 million in financing came from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Iowa Power Fund.

The reported cost of the DuPont and Poet plants are between $225 and $250 million for cellulosic production, with gallons produced expected to be more in line with what the Galva operation produces from its corn ethanol side of the business.

The Galva cellulosic addition, according to Delayne Johnson, CEO of Quad County Corn Processors, also contributes to the production of additional corn oil and livestock feed with higher protein.

Iowa is already reported to be the leader in renewable fuels production with 42 ethanol facilities and 12 biodiesel plants in the state.