About half of the corn grown in Iowa is used to make ethanol, and now one plant in Galva, Iowa, is looking to get more bang for its buck out of that corn by adding a facility to produce cellulosic ethanol.
Hundreds of trucks pull in around the clock to dump bushels of gold at Quad County Corn Processors. The plant makes 35 million gallons of ethanol a year. But it hopes to produce much more than that next year by adding an $8.5 million cellulosic ethanol facility to its current plant.
Right now, corn ethanol producers already make cellulose because it's the fiber found in corn. But the Quad County Corn Processors wants to turn that cellulose into more ethanol.
The company hopes to add 2 million gallons per year.
"We'll also see about 300 percent higher corn yields with that, and at the same time our co-products will see a reduction in fiber," said Travis Brotherson, Plant Engineer for Quad County Corn Processors.
Brotherson said it will be the first plant in the U.S. to produce cellulosic ethanol on a commercial scale.
"The world is looking for cellulosic ethanol production right now and we just saw our resources we have right now at the current plant as a very good way to really leverage existing facilities to start producing cellulosic ethanol," he said.
Brotherson thinks other ethanol plants will follow the trend.
"I see a huge market for cellulosic ethanol basically as soon as it can be produced," Brotherson said. "Because as we're working towards our energy demands in this country, cellulosic ethanol is really going to be the next step and we'll be the new generation of fuel that we'll be seeing in the future."
If mother nature plays nice with the agriculture industry.
"I think in the future if we get through these drought years, corn ethanol will be just as strong as it ever has been," he said.
Quad County Corn Processors expects the new facility to be open sometime next spring. It's is expected to create five jobs.