New Energy Blue launches farmer-owned biomass business
New Energy Farmers is a biomass aggregation company jointly owned by Iowa farmers and New Energy Blue.
Its purpose is to supply clean, sustainable feedstock to the New Energy Freedom Biomass Refinery, also in Mason City, and support the build-out of other New Energy Blue biomass refineries throughout Iowa and the American Midwest.
New Energy Blue has just completed the engineering of New Energy Freedom, scheduled to break ground in early 2024 and begin operation in late 2025.
Because top-quality biomass is critical to efficient refinery operation and delivery of climate-healing products, over the past decade the New Energy Aggregation System was developed to assure a continuous supply of clean, dry stover in tight, compact bales, according to New Energy Blue.
During the Iowa corn harvest this past autumn, the New Energy Aggregation System was again tested by chopping, baling and stacking excess stalks across extensive acreage.
New Energy Blue conducted the field trials using methods and machinery from New Holland, Case, John Deere, Fendt, Massey Ferguson, and Mil-Stak.
From the autumn harvests of 2024 and 2025, New Energy Farmers will provide a total of 275,000 dry tons of feedstock to the Freedom refinery — enough to produce a year's worth of next-generation ethanol (made from the corn plant's sugars) and clean lignin (taken from the stiff structure of the plant), according to the company.
Stalks from about 50 farmers with 110,000 acres are sufficient due to the exceptional productivity of North Iowa corn growers, who typically have three tons of excess stalks that need to be removed, it added.
Using the latest aggregation advances, bale weights increase from about 900 pounds to as much as 1500 pounds, cutting transportation and storage costs, continued the organisation.
"We're tenaciously focused on every impact to our supply chain, from soil to product," said Thomas Corle, CEO of New Energy Blue. "For our first five US refineries, we expect corn stalks to be the raw material for biobased fuels and chemicals – replacing oil and gas refining in the future. We're going into business with the American farmer, making a substantial investment."
New Energy Farmers will become majority-owned and managed by the corn growers who have already committed to supplying their excess corn stover as a feedstock to the Freedom biomass refinery.
Members receive a cash payment for every dry ton bale of corn stalks, own a stake in the business based on acreage, receive new farm equipment for harvesting and aggregation and share in the annual profits of their own company.
Lead farmers on the management board will oversee the process of procuring and collecting the stover from within a 20-30 mile radius of Mason City, managing off-site storage, and delivering the bales to the refinery.