DuPont broke ground on a cellulosic ethanol facility in Nevada, IA, last week that’s expected to generate 30 million gallons per year of biofuels produced from corn stover residue. Completion date: Mid-2014.

The company is calling the more-than-$200-million facility one of the first and largest commercial-scale cellulosic biorefineries in the world.

Its capacity is more than original estimates called for, according to DuPont officials. They say data derived from the company’s piloting facility in Tennessee allowed it to further optimize its process and technology. This first commercial facility will require a capital investment of about $7/gallon of annual capacity.

“Nearly a decade ago, DuPont set out to develop innovative technology that would result in low capital and low-cost cellulosic ethanol production. We recognized that science-powered innovation was the catalyst to make cellulosic ethanol a commercial reality and to help reduce global dependence on fossil fuels,” says James Collins, president, DuPont Industrial Biosciences.

“By leveraging DuPont Pioneer corn production expertise and designing an integrated technology platform, we’ve built an affordable and sustainable entry point into this new industry. We’re committed to continued productivity gains to drive costs down even further for the coming generations of plants, ones based on corn stover as well as other feedstocks. And we didn’t get to this point alone. We’ve built an incredible partnership with the state of Iowa, Iowa State University, entrepreneurial growers and a whole host of partners around the country who share our vision of making renewable fuels a commercial reality,” he says.

To supply the corn stover for its plant, DuPont will contract with more than 500 local farmers to gather, store and deliver more than 375,000 dry tons of stover per year into the Nevada facility. Besides an estimated 60 full-time plant operations jobs, more than 150 individuals will be involved in collecting, stacking, transporting and storing stover feedstock each yearly harvest. The stover will be collected from about a 30-mile radius of the new facility and harvested off of 190,000 acres.