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| By Chemical Engineering

Over the last three years, DuPont (Wilmington, Del.; has been developing technology to break down the complex sugar matrix of corn stover as a means for making ethanol from cellulose in high yield. Although there is more research to be completed, the company is ready to take the next step to bring cellulosic ethanol to market, says Thomas Connelly, executive vice president and chief innovation officer. Specifically, last month DuPont established a partnership with Broin, Soux Falls, S.D.; Broin is the largest dry-mill ethanol producer in the U.S., and currently manages 18 plants with five more under construction.

Both partners have jointly funded projects with the U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE; Washington, D.C.): DuPont in a four-year effort to convert corn stover into ethanol as part of its Integrated Corn-Based Biorefinery (CE, April, p. 27); and Broin through a 5-year initiative to develop and improve dry mill fractionation.

The later project lead to the commercialization of Brion’s BFrac fractionation technology, which separates corn into three fractions: fiber, germ and endosperm. The endosperm is then fermented into ethanol while the remaining fractions are converted into value-added products, including the intended use of fiber in the production of cellulose to ethanol.