Gevo uses inedible field corn as feedstock to make isobutanol and there are numerous reasons why it works:
There’s plenty of corn around. Gevo’s Luverne, Minnesota, facility is situated amid thousands of acres of cornfields, since it’s a converted ethanol plant. That means reduced transportation cost (and emissions) to get the corn to the plant.
Corn growing is a science, and, while the weather and other conditions affect yield, it produces a huge biomass growth over the course of the three- to four-month growing season. That’s carbon getting captured from the atmosphere through photosynthesis.
When the corn gets to the plant, it is separated into its components, and the starch goes to the fermentation process to make biofuel, while the protein becomes animal feed.
Zone-tilling means the farmers leave the roots of last years crop and plow a very narrow row between. As the root ball of each stalk decays in the ground, it’s carbon becomes part of the soil.
High-protein animal feed helps livestock be healthier and also produce nutrient-rich manure that is then spread over the fields, preventing the farmer from needing to buy synthetic fertilizer and pay a crew to spread it.
The Circular Economy is a powerful tool to reduce carbon emissions and reuse our natural resources. It’s easy to understand if we look at it from the perspective of just one isobutanol facility and its surrounding farms.