Verbio North America starts up Iowa renewable natgas, ethanol plant

Adam Yanelli

07-Dec-2021

HOUSTON (ICIS)–Verbio North America started the first phase of its industrial scale renewable natural gas (RNG) facility in Nevada, Iowa, two and a half years after its parent company, Germany-based Verbio AG, bought the plant from DuPont, the company said on Tuesday.

DuPont produced cellulosic ethanol at commercial scale at the plant, but Verbio converted it into a unit that makes RNG and ethanol.

Phase I of the project, at a cost of $35m, will produce RNG using anerobic digestion technology.

Feedstock comes from baled crop residue procured within a 50- to 75-mile radius from the plant, procured by Verbio Agriculture, which was formed in 2020 primarily to secure feedstock for the plant.

Verbio Agriculture will secure 75,000-100,000 tons/year (68,039-90,718 tonnes/year) of corn stover during the first phase of operations and will evaluate procurement of other types of cellulosic materials, including immature cover crops, over the long term.

Corn stover is the inedible parts of corn that are left over after harvest.

The RNG will be upgraded to meet pipeline natural gas standards and then be injected into an onsite natural gas distribution pipeline for eventual use as compressed natural gas (CNG) of liquefied natural gas (LNG) for vehicle fuel.

“Our biorefinery facility is now injecting pipeline quality natural gas into Alliant Energy’s gas distribution system for sale, nationally, to CNG and LNG transportation customers,” said Verbio Nevada Refinery president and general manager Greg Faith.

Phase II of the project will use corn to produce ethanol using traditional methods.

The company said that the site already had the infrastructure in place for ethanol production, and that it will invest in additional fermentation tanks and the equipment necessary to produce ethanol, RNG, corn oil, nitrogen fertilizer and other value-added biproducts.

Primary feedstocks would be 20m bushels/year of corn, to be procured locally, the company said.

Construction will include a corn unloading facility and silo storage.

The CEO of the parent company, Claus Sauter, said in September during an outlook that it plans to increase its biomethane capacity in the US, using the Nevada plant site.

Additional reporting by Stefan Baumgarten and Al Greenwood

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