In her new position, Kelly Davis will augment the company’s technical, regulatory, and operations expertise as it staffs up to build out a series of clean-tech biomass refineries, which will produce some of the lowest-carbon biobased fuels and chemicals from corn stalks, wheat straw, and, in the future, perennial grasses.
She joins New Energy Blue after a decade as Vice President of Technical and Regulatory Affairs with the Renewable Fuels Association. A chemist by training and self-described “producer at heart,” she also brings three decades of biofuels experience in quality management, production, and marketing.
“We’re building our first biomass refinery here in the U.S., optimizing a process proven by a commercial operation in Denmark,” says Thomas Corle, CEO and co-founder. “Having Kelly’s counsel from this point forward will be invaluable. I’ve worked with her and witnessed the full spectrum of her abilities since the late ’90s. She knows the biofuels industry inside and out, and there’s almost nothing she can’t do.”
“I’ve never taken on an easy job,” says Davis of her move to New Energy Blue. “The irresistible challenge here is turning corn stalks into cellulosic ethanol—and doing it profitably at commercial scale. That’s the holy grail of the bioenergy business. That’s what excites me.”
Davis joins the team planning the New Energy Freedom Biomass Refinery for a site outside Mason City, Iowa. The Freedom project is the first of five planned clean-tech refineries, which combined should keep over one million tons of CO2 out of the atmosphere every year, achieved in part by replacing fuels and chemicals now produced from oil and gas refining.
Working side-by-side with local Iowa farmers, famous for their high-yielding corn fields, Davis will source their crop residue for conversion into second-generation fuels. She will also develop expanded uses for the clean lignin produced, a natural binder for replacing oil-derived bitumen in road paving and many other applications.
For Kelly Davis, it’s like preparing 40 years for this opportunity. “I want the next ten years of my career to be as exciting as the first ten.”