Nestled in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains is the town of Vonore, TN. While it's not exactly the type of city that one would associate with cutting-edge cellulosic ethanol production, it is here that DuPont, the U.S. chemical company, is trying to buy Danisco's joint-owned facility for nearly $6 billion in an attempt to gain a fair amount of control over the U.S.' cellulosic ethanol industry.

DuPont already has a working joint venture with Danisco, with the two firms developing second-generation cellulosic ethanol at the joint-owned demonstration plant, but the planned acquisition would give DuPont full control. Danisco makes enzymes that enable biomass – e.g., straw husks, switchgrass and sugarcane – to be broken down and fermented into usable ethanol.

Cellulosic ethanol is thought to be one of the more promising long-term alternatives to petroleum-based fuels because, unlike corn-based ethanol, it can be made from agricultural waste, avoiding competition with the food industry over edible crops.

[Source: Financial Times]

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