The Department of Energy has awarded a 76.3 million dollar grant to a company in South Dakota for development of cellulosic ethanol technology at a plant in Iowa.  Mark Stowser is the Vice President of Research at Sioux Falls based POET. He says the grant will help pay for up to forty percent of its plant expansion in Emmetsburg and boost its cellulosic output from 50-million to 125-million gallons a year.

"This money is critical as we move forward to our final design construction and start-up of what we call Project LIBERTY, which will be based in Emmetsburg," Stowser said. The Emmetsburg plant will use discarded corn cobs and stalks removed from fields to convert to ethanol. Stowser says the use of cellulosic ethanol has the potential to cut greenhouse gas emissions by up to 86-percent compared to gasoline. The Emmetsburg plant will need about 275,000 acres of cobs to meet the demand.

"We like corn cobs because they’re readily available and when we remove them from the farm, they have very little, if any impact, on soil fertility or erosion," Stowser said. "If we collect the corn cobs that are available here in the Cornbelt, we can offset about five billion gallons of foreign derived gasoline." The Emmetsburg plant is scheduled to be operating by 2011. The D-O-E grant announced this week follows a 3.7-million dollar grant awarded last year for Project LIBERTY’s preliminary design, engineering and feedstock collection.