Biofuel producer POET has sealed a $105 million loan guarantee for its Project LIBERTY, set to become one of the first truly commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol production plants.

The facility will be built in Emmetsburg, Iowa, and is expected to produce up to 25 million gallons of ethanol each year.

It will produce biogas as a co-product, enough to completely power itself and eliminate the majority of the natural gas required to operate the adjacent grain ethanol plant.

POET started construction in 2010 with a 22-acre integrated stackyard to store the biomass delivered by area farmers. Preliminary site work on the biorefinery began this fall.

The company estimates the project will support approximately 200 construction jobs and 40 permanent jobs.

The facility is also expected to generate around $14 million in new revenue to area farmers who will provide the corn crop residue, the US Department of Energy said as it finalized the guarantee on Friday.

“This project represents a pioneering effort to make broad scale deployment of cellulose ethanol a reality,” said US Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “Producing the next generation of biofuels can not only reduce America’s oil dependency, it can also create vast new economic opportunities for rural Americans.”

Project LIBERTY’s technology uses enzymes to convert cellulose from corncobs, corn leaves and corn husks into ethanol.

The facility will produce enough biogas to power both Project LIBERTY and most of POET’s adjacent grain-based ethanol plant.

POET plans to replicate its unique process so that it is integrated into all the company’s 27 grain-ethanol plants for a combined annual capacity of one billion gallons per year of cellulosic ethanol.


The first commercial cellulosic ethanol plants will demonstrate that the 1 billion tons of biomass available in the United States can be a major force in overcoming the country’s reliance on foreign oil, POET CEO Jeff Broin said.

There is enough biomass available to allow ethanol to replace all of America’s imports of gasoline, he suggested.

Broin said: “Financing has been a key hurdle to getting the first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant up and running. We’re excited to show the world the tangible results of a decade of work by our researchers and engineers.”

POET has spent tens of millions of dollars over the last decade working to commercialize cellulosic ethanol, including operation of a pilot cellulosic ethanol plant in Scotland, S.D.

Partners in universities, government, and private industry have also played key roles in making the process both renewable and profitable.

source: brighterenergy


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