A product some see as the future of fuel in America, cellulosic ethanol is now being produced from corn cobs at a pilot plant in Scotland, South Dakota. POET president and CEO Jeff Broin says it’s the next step toward commercializing cellulosic ethanol at the company’s Project Liberty plant in the northwest Iowa town of Emmetsburg.
Broin says: "What we have today is an operating cellulosic ethanol production facility with the flexibility of a lab. This is a miniature version of our commercial cellulosic plant, Project Liberty, which will start producing in 2011." He says the start-up of the pilot facility has gone smoothly, producing a thousand gallons of cellulosic ethanol so far.
"The facility will allow us to evaluate numerous pre-treatment options, enzyme combinations and every other aspect of the process," Broin says. "The facility will also allow us to learn the way in which each step interacts with every other in a continuous process." He says they want to re-use the cellulose byproduct to power both their cellulosic and grain-based ethanol plants.
Broin says they’ll soon be starting an anaerobic digester in Scotland to test the various processes and alternative ways to minimize energy usage. He says a gallon of cellulosic ethanol is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 90%, compared to gasoline. Broin believes corn and cellulosic ethanol together hold the potential to replace gasoline as the nation’s main transportation fuel.