July 16, 2011 at 9:26 pm #2188
POET LLC to Build Commercial-Scale Cellulosic Bio-Refinery in Emmetsburg, Iowa
Ethanol from Corncobs, Leaves, Husks and Stalks
Kevin Hagen, Yahoo! Contributor Network
Jul 16, 2011
POET LLC is planning to build the first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant in the U.S. in Emmetsburg, Iowa. POET’s Project Liberty, as it is called, will produce up to 25 million gallons of ethanol a year from corncobs, leaves, husks, and stalks. The project is expected to create about 200 construction jobs and 40 permanent jobs at the plant once it is complete, and will also generate $14 million in new revenue for area farmers.
POET has been offered a conditional $105 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy to support the development of the plant. POET’s CEO, Jeff Broin, pointed out that financing has been one of the biggest challenges in bringing the production of cellulosic ethanol to a commercial scale and the commitment for a loan guarantee brings the company one step closer.
POET’s Project Liberty will be located next to the company’s existing grain ethanol plant in Emmetsburg. In 2010 POET started constructing a 22-acre stackyard to store the 56,000 tons of biomass provided by 85 local farmers that will feed the cellulosic ethanol plant. POET has operated a pilot cellulosic ethanol plant in Scotland, South Dakota and hopes to eventually incorporate the cellulosic technology in the 27 grain ethanol plants it operates in the U.S.
Donnelle Eller reports for the Des Moines Register that POET plans to start construction in August, 2011 and the plant could be in production by 2013. And, Iowa could be a leader in the production of cellulosic ethanol when the POET project is joined by a similar plant that DuPont is planning to build in Nevada, Iowa. The DuPont project is also planned to go into production in 2013.
According to Eller’s report, POET’s cellulosic ethanol production will displace the use of about 13.5 million gallons of gasoline a year and avoid over 122,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions a year, equivalent to taking 22,500 cars off the road. And the use of agricultural waste products as feedstock for the ethanol plant will avoid using food supplies, which has driven up the price of corn.
In Iowa Public Television’s coverage of Obama’s visit to a POET plant in Missouri in April, 2010, POET’s CEO Jeff Broin pointed out that the company had reduced the cost of producing cellulosic ethanol from $4.35 a gallon in 2008 to $2.35 a gallon in April 2010, and hoped to further reduce the cost to about $2.00 a gallon by the time the Emmetsburg plant starts production.
Broin also expressed the need to expand the market. He indicated that the production capacity is there, but the industry is currently limited to blends of gasoline with 10% ethanol. The Environmental Protection Agency was considering raising the federal standards to E15. Iowa Public Television’s coverage also pointed out that POET plans to reduce the amount of water it uses in its cellulosic ethanol production from 3 gallons of water per gallon of biofuel to 2.33 gallons of water.
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