ERC Researchers Write Technical Paper That Influences Iowa and the Biobased Chemical Industry

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Researchers at the Center for Biorenewable Chemicals (CBiRC), an NSF-funded Engineering Research Center (ERC) headquartered at Iowa State University (ISU), co-authored a report on the commercial opportunity that biobased chemicals offers to the State of Iowa (see figure). This report was requested by stakeholders to examine whether a production tax credit should be offered for companies producing building-block biobased chemicals in the state. 


CBiRC and ISU authors created the report to educate stakeholders about the opportunity with biobased chemicals.Ultimately, the report was used as the basis for a state bill providing biobased-chemical-production tax credits of $10 million per year. Further, the report strengthened CBiRC ties within the state, including with the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA); this latter tie has been important for engaging IEDA in sustainability planning for CBiRC. 


In the United States, Iowa has the largest deployed bio-manufacturing capital infrastructure, which includes corn wet mills, soybean processing plants, corn dry mills, biodiesel plants and lignocellulosic conversion facilities. The state is looking to leverage this infrastructure to be a major hub for biobased chemical manufacturing. In addition, the Iowa biomanufacturing industry and IEDA have been interested in positioning the state to be a significant player in biobased chemicals.  Given CBiRC’s visibility in the state, the ERC was asked to develop some background information that could be provided to state legislators and their staffs.

The report addresses the size and unique attributes of the biobased chemical industry and contains an analysis of how tax credits impacted the ethanol industry in the state; it also provides results of interviews with companies that explained how the biobased chemical production tax credit could impact their production-siting decisions.

The CBiRC Center Director introduced the report at a press conference in the state capitol and, with the Innovation Director, met with key legislators on the Economic Development subcommittee to answer their questions about the biobased chemical industry. The bill was signed on April 8, 2016. (For more information regarding the bill, see