POET: Cellulosic Ethanol Pilot Facility Will Be Operational This Year
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – At the American Coalition for Ethanol conference, POET announced that construction will be completed on a $4 million pilot-scale cellulosic ethanol production facility later this year.
The pilot plant will be adjacent to POET’s corn ethanol pilot facility and a nine million gallon per year (MGPY) ethanol production facility in Scotland, S.D. It will allow POET to build upon recent technology advances before starting construction on Project LIBERTY, their commercial cellulosic production facility, next year.
“Our expanded research effort has led to several significant strides in the development of cellulosic ethanol technology at the lab scale in recent months,” said Jeff Broin, CEO of POET. “Construction of this pilot facility will allow our company to take the next step toward the commercialization of cellulosic ethanol.”
Broin also said that he is more confident about the future of cellulosic ethanol than ever before. “In the past few months, our scientists have been able to achieve significant ethanol percentages in fermentation and improve the yield of ethanol from biomass. Additionally, in our work with farmers and agricultural equipment manufacturers, we had a very successful harvest of corn cobs last fall and anticipate further advances during an expanded harvest this fall.”
During the 2007 harvest, POET worked with major agricultural equipment manufacturers to harvest 4,000 acres of corn grain and cobs from a farmer’s field in Southeastern South Dakota. Cobs from this fall’s harvest and last will serve as the feedstock for the cellulosic pilot plant, along with corn fiber extracted from the adjacent corn ethanol production facility with POET’s proprietary fractionation process, BFRAC™.
POET has been working on cellulosic ethanol technology for more than eight years and has significantly expanded their research and development efforts. The company recently completed an expansion of their research lab in Sioux Falls, S.D. that tripled its size. In the past year, they have doubled the number of researchers on staff and will spend twice as much on R&D this year as they did just two years ago.
Project LIBERTY, the transformation of a 50 MGPY grain-to-ethanol plant in Emmetsburg, Iowa into an integrated corn-to-ethanol and cellulose-to-ethanol biorefinery, is jointly funded by POET and the United States Department of Energy (DOE). Once complete, the facility will produce 125 MGPY, of which 25 million gallons will be from corn fiber and corn cobs. By adding cellulosic production to an existing grain ethanol plant, POET will be able to produce 11 percent more ethanol from a bushel of corn, 27 percent more from an acre of corn, while reducing fossil fuel consumption and water use.
POET is in the first phase of the agreement with the DOE, which governs all aspects of the project leading up to construction. Project LIBERTY is expected to start construction in 2009 and be operational in late 2011. The pilot facility is outside of the partnership with the DOE and all construction expenses will be incurred by POET.
POET, the largest ethanol producer in the world according to the Renewable Fuels Association, is an established leader in the biorefining industry through project development, design and construction, research and development, plant management, and marketing. The 20-year old company currently operates 23 production facilities in the United States with three more under construction. The company produces and markets more than 1.3 billion gallons of ethanol annually. For more information, go to http://www.poet.com.