POET Produces Cellulosic Ethanol from Corn Cobs

POET has produced cellulosic ethanol from corn cobs. The company intends to make cobs and corn fiber the feedstock for its commercial cellulosic ethanol production facility that will be jointly funded with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

“For a host of reasons, POET is focused on corn fiber and cobs as the first cellulosic feedstock for our production facilities,” said Jeff Broin, CEO of POET. “First, the fiber that comes from our fractionation process will provide 40 percent of our cellulosic feedstock from the corn kernels that we are already processing in our facility. That means that nearly half of our cellulosic feedstock comes with no additional planting, harvest, storage or transportation needs.”

POET has also produced cellulosic ethanol from fiber, the husk of the kernel, which is extracted through its proprietary BFRAC fractionation process.

“The rest of the cellulosic feedstock will come from corn cobs,” said Broin, “which will expand the amount of ethanol that can come from a corn crop with minimal additional effort and little to no environmental impact. There is no major market for cobs, so we will be producing cellulosic ethanol from an agricultural residue and because the cob is only 18 percent of the above ground stover, it will not adversely impact soil quality.”

The cellulosic project that POET is jointly funding with the DOE will convert an existing 50 million gallon per year (mgy) dry-mill ethanol plant in Emmetsburg, Iowa, into a commercial cellulosic biorefinery. Once complete, the facility will produce 125 mgy, 25 percent of which will be from cellulosic feedstock.

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 almost completely eliminating fossil fuel consumption and decreasing water usage by 24 percent. Last week, POET announced that Jim Sturdevant, a 22-year veteran of the US Geological Survey, will serve as director of the project.

In another announcement released by the company, POET’s Chief Science Officer Steve Lewis received the 2007 Award of Excellence at the Fuel Ethanol Workshop in St. Louis, Missouri. The Award was established in 2000 to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to the fuel ethanol industry through their research, technical advisory and/or development activities.

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