Biofuels and Biorenewables


Iowa is focused on the use of biomass as feedstocks for the production of a broad range of industrial bio-based products. Iowa leads the nation in the availability of biomass and the most robust industrial biotechnology infrastructure available in the United States. This platform includes two primary subcomponents: advanced biofuels development and value-added biobased chemicals, polymers and materials.

Iowa Research Centers that Support Research and Commercialization:

Ames Laboratory, Center for Biorenewable Chemicals, BioCentury Research Farm, Center
for Crop Utilization Research, Center for Bioprocessing and Biocatalysis, BioEconomy Institute, Biobased Industry Center, National Ag-Based Lubricants Center, Center for
Biopolymers & Biocomposites

Biorenewable Chemicals

Iowa offers the first of its kind in the nation, Renewable Chemicals Production Tax Credit program. The program addresses the unique opportunity to advance Iowa's economy by focusing on the development of biomass as feedstocks for the production of renewable chemicals.

Iowa produces the nation's second largest supply of biomass with the ability to harvest 14.4 million dry tons of biomass annually (total cellulosic and crop biomass). Additionally, Iowa can boast one of the most robust industrial biotechnology infrastructures available in the U.S.

Many of the industrial facilities around the state currently producing food and fuel products from corn, soybeans and other renewable products also produce certain co-products that can be further processed into higher value basic chemical compounds. These compounds can be further processed into end-use consumer products such as plastics, textiles, paints or pharmaceuticals. Production of such biochemicals is perhaps the fastest growing segment of the bioscience industry and represents opportunities for development of a high-density industry cluster such as Silicon Valley.

The federal Department of Energy studied high-value chemicals from biomass feedstocks and identified 30 chemicals that hold the most market potential, which forms the foundation for this program. The Renewable Chemical Production Tax Credit program aims to incentivize the production of high-value "building block" chemicals based on weight ($0.05 per pound produced) with annual limits of $1 million for start-ups and $500,000 for established businesses.

Iowa State University is home to the "first in the nation" Center for Biorenewable Chemicals (CBiRC).  From an $18.5 million dollar grant from the National Science Foundation, the Center for Biorenewable Chemicals was founded at Iowa State University and is designed to integrate biological and chemical catalysis systems to produce biorenewable chemicals. Industrial partners will come from five key sectors:  petrochemical producers, agricultural product processors, chemical catalyst providers, biocatalyst providers, and process licensors.

The Center for Biorenewable Chemicals - Iowa State University: 

Furthermore, The Center for Bioplastics and Biocomposites (CB2) is a National Science Foundation Industry & University Cooperative Research Center (I/UCRC) that focuses on developing high-value biobased products from agricultural and forestry feedstocks. CB2 is a collaborative effort by the Biopolymers & Biocomposites Research Team at Iowa State University, the Composite Materials and Engineering Center at Washington State University, and industry members to conduct commercially relevant research.

The Center for Bioplastics and Biocomposites (CB2) – Iowa State University:


  • Iowa leads the nation in ethanol production with 44 operating ethanol plants that have a capacity of over 4.3 billion gallons. (Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, 2018)
  • Iowa accounts for 26 percent of total U.S. ethanol production. (Renewable Fuels Association, 2016)
  • Annual ethanol production increased by 893 percent from 2000 to 2017, from 440 million gallons in 2000 to 4.3 billion gallons today. (Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, 2015)
  • Iowa's ethanol industry produced approximately 470 million bushels of distillers grains in 2016, the highest by any state. (Iowa Corn Growers Association)


  • Iowa is second in the nation in biodiesel production with 12 biodiesel refineries producing a combined capacity of approximately 423 million gallons. (Energy Information Administration, 2017)
  • Iowa has production capacity to produce over 18 percent of the total U.S. biodiesel capacity. (Energy Information Administration)
  • Biodiesel production increased from 25,000 gallons to 423 million gallons annually from 2005 to 2017. (Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, 2017)

Iowa recently enacted a new sales/use tax refund for biodiesel producers. Producers are eligible to receive a refund on the amount of sales or use tax paid during the production of biodiesel, up to three cents per gallon.

Contact Info Iowa

Contact Name:
Ms. Anke Goebel de Méndez - Director, European Office
Ms. Heike Zoellner - Business Development Manager

STATE OF IOWA - European Office
Kleine Hochstrasse 8, D - 60313 Frankfurt/Main, Germany
Phone: +49 (69) 28 38 58, Fax: +49 (69) 28 14 93

C.A.S.E. Call Centre

Ursula Becker

+32 488 331 972

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