South Dakota-based POET-DSM opened a cellulosic ethanol plant in Emmetsburg Wednesday. The Project Liberty cellulosic ethanol plant is a collaboration between South Dakota-based POET and Netherlands-based DMS Royal.
POET’s founder and executive chairman Jeff Broin says unlike grain-based ethanol, cellulosic ethanol uses corn’s inedible stover to create fuel. “The leaves, the husks and the cobs. So we’re leaving really almost all the stock there on the field. Just taking the light stover off, which is very low in fertilizer content. We’re taking that off the field and converting that residue to ethanol,” Broin says.
POET is contributing the bio-refining technology and DMS creates enzymes used to convert stover into fuel. Royal DSM CEO Feike Sijbesma says while the production process is now licensed in the U.S., they hope it could eventually go global. “We hope to sell licenses also abroad, China, India, Brazil shows interest. We hope at the end of the day, also in Europe,” according toe Sijbesma.
The plant will produced 25 million gallons a year of ethanol. Two other operations are making or plan to make cellulosic ethanol in Iowa. Galva-based Quad County Corn Processors produced its first gallon of cellulosic ethanol in July. Dupont Danisco is expected to open a cellulosic ethanol plant in the central Iowa town of Nevada later this year.