Farmers learn about harvesting for cellulosic ethanol

POET’s Project LIBERTY Field Day showcases new equipment, outlines new federal programs for farmers to start collecting biomass

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

EMMETSBURG, Iowa – Farmers today witnessed the rapid progress being made toward solving a key challenge to commercial cellulosic ethanol production: establishing the feedstock infrastructure and market.

At POET’s Project LIBERTY Field Day, 16 companies showcased equipment to help make the process of harvesting corn cobs and residue quick, easy and profitable. At the same time, officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Department of Energy talked with area farmers about money to help procure equipment and matching payments for the biomass.

Project LIBERTY is POET’s planned 25 million-gallon-per-year cellulosic ethanol plant in Emmetsburg.

POET CEO Jeff Broin told farmers in attendance that the time to get involved in cellulosic ethanol is now.

“This process is ready,” he said. “We’re making cellulosic ethanol today, and we’re making it in a manner that we know is going to be profitable.”

Cob-harvesting equipment is now entering the market, with more machines coming soon. Agriculture equipment manufacturers are working to ramp up production so that every farmer in the Emmetsburg area has the opportunity to participate.

The federal government is also working to establish the feedstock market through programs such as the Biomass Crop Assistance Program, which provides matching funds to farmers for their biomass crops, and a new grant increase to POET that will total $20 million to help put cob harvesting technology in the field.

Iowa Lt. Gov. Patty Judge and former four-star General Wesley Clark spoke to attendees about the important role they would play in providing more homegrown fuel for the nation.

“We are involved in something that is historic,” Clark said. “We are going to significantly reduce our dependence on foreign energy sources, and we will strengthen America’s national security.”

“We are seeing for ourselves that cellulosic ethanol is here, that it is viable and that it will transform renewable fuel as we know it today,” Judge said.

POET’s pilot-scale plant in Scotland, S.D. is already producing cellulosic ethanol at a rate of approximately 20,000 gallons per year. To see a documentary about POET’s pilot cellulosic ethanol plant visit Media outlets are welcome to link to the documentary in online coverage. Photos are also available for publication at

Photos and video from Project LIBERTY Field Day are posted on POET’s Flickr account and at POET TV. More coverage from the day can also be found at

About POET
POET, the largest ethanol producer in the world, is a leader in biorefining through its efficient, vertically integrated approach to production. The 20-year-old company produces more than 1.54 billion gallons of ethanol annually from 26 production facilities nationwide. POET recently started up a pilot-scale cellulosic ethanol plant, which uses corn cobs as feedstock, and will commercialize the process in Emmetsburg, Iowa. For more information, visit

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