Grain News

Poet's Project Liberty to Utilize Corn Cobs for Cellulosic Ethanol

Date Posted: August 14, 2007

by Myke Feinman, BioFuels Journal Editor

Sioux Falls, SD--Corn cobs and fractionated hull (pericarp) fiber will be the feedstock Poet utilizes to produce 25 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year (MMGY) at a plant to be built adjacent to its plant in Emmetsburg, IA.

Poet, Sioux Falls, SD, announced at the Fuel Ethanol Workshop in St. Louis, MO, June 27, that the company had successfully produced ethanol from corn cob.

Of the 25 MMGY of cellulosic ethanol production, 40% will come from the hulls fractionated corn kernels used in its existing, adjacent dry mill ethanol plant; the remaining 60% from the corn cobs, which contain 16% more carbohydrates (sugars) than corn.

Poet's $200+ million Project Liberty will include a U.S. Department of Energy grant of $80 million.

The project will add 75 MMGY of capacity to the Emmetsburg site (25 MMGY to be of cellulosic production), that currently produces 50 MMGY of dry grind corn ethanol.

Once the DOE funding is received, Poet predicts the plant will be constructed in about 30 months, putting completion sometime in late 2010, according to Dr. Mark Stowers, Poet vice president of research and development.

Why Cobs?

Stowers cited several reasons for Poet choosing corn cobs as the primary feedstock for its initial cellulose ethanol plant:

> It is the easiest part of corn stover to harvest.

> It represents 12 to 25% of the above-ground corn stover weight, so removing it will not adversely affect soil erosion or deplete nutrients to the soil.

> Cobs are the most dense part of the corn stover, making transportation more efficient (takes up less space).

> Cobs are the most fermentable part of the corn stover providing the plant a higher ethanol yield.

> The largest amount of corn cobs are produced in the Corn Belt, where Poet's ethanol plants are located. The infrastructure to harvest and transport cobs to its ethanol plants is already in place.

For more information, call Dr. Mark Stowers, 605-965-6428.

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