POET collaborating with agricultural OEMs to harvest corn cobs for cellulosic ethanol feedstock
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (October 30, 2007) – POET, the largest producer of ethanol in the world, is working with several leading agricultural equipment manufactures to refine methods for harvesting, storing and transporting corn cobs for commercial cellulosic ethanol production. POET is harvesting, storing, transporting and performing research on 4,000 acres of corn in South Dakota this fall in order to find the most efficient way for farmers to harvest cobs in large quantities.
Jeff Broin, CEO of POET, said, “We are going to do something that has never been done before: produce cellulosic ethanol from corn cobs on a commercial scale. When our Emmetsburg, Iowa plant is operational in 2011, it will necessitate harvesting, storing and transporting 275,000 acres of corn cobs. The 4,000 acres we’re harvesting this fall represents the first step toward making that massive harvest achievable.”
POET is working with several major agricultural equipment manufacturers on this fall’s harvest, including John Deere. Barry Nelson, manager, public relations, for John Deere’s Ag Marketing Center said, “On behalf of John Deere, we're very interested in the new technologies that will be involved with the advancement of cellulosic ethanol. We're designing and testing machines that can harvest the crops needed for ethanol production and see potential for expanded markets for our customers as the industry develops this renewable fuel resource.”
Harvesting cobs represents a significant new revenue opportunity for farmers and communities with cellulosic ethanol production facilities. Because this is the first time cobs will be harvested on such a massive scale, POET is still modeling what they will be able to pay for the cobs. At $30-60 per ton, it could represent $25-$75,000 in additional revenue for an average-size farmer and $3-9 million in additional revenue for a community.
POET focused on corn cobs for their cellulosic feedstock for many reasons. First, the collection of corn cobs will require minimal additional effort and will have little to no impact on the environment. The cob is only 18 percent of the above ground stover, so the collection will not adversely impact soil quality. Second, a higher carbohydrate content than the rest of the plant will allow POET to create more ethanol from the cob. Finally, since the cob has a higher bulk density than other parts of the corn stalk, it is easier to transport from the field to the facility.
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. Once complete, the facility will produce 125 million gallons of ethanol per year, 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 significantly reducing fossil fuel consumption for the entire facility.
POET, the largest ethanol producer in the world, is an established leader in the biorefining industry through project development, design and construction, research and development, plant management, and marketing. Formerly known as Broin, the 20-year old company currently operates 21 production facilities in the United States with six more in construction or under development. The company produces and markets more than 1.1 billion gallons of ethanol annually. For more information, go to http://www.poetenergy.com.
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