Cellulosic ethanol is ethanol made from cellulose, a non-grain material/feedstock that provides the cellular structure for all plants. The end product – a clean-burning, high-octane fuel – is the same as ethanol made from corn.
Cellulose, which provides the cellular structure for all plants, is the world's most abundant organic compound. POET has been researching and developing cellulosic ethanol technology since 2001, when we began performing bench-scale testing of our cellulosic technology at our research laboratory. In 2008, we began producing cellulosic ethanol at pilot scale at our research center. In partnership with Royal DSM of the Netherlands, POET-DSM Advanced Biofuels opened a commercial-scale ethanol plant in Emmetsburg, Iowa – dubbed “Project LIBERTY” – in September of 2014. Project LIBERTY’s feedstock is corn crop residue – cobs, leaves, husk and some stalk.
The Future of Cellulosic Ethanol
Cellulosic ethanol's potential is enormous. Department of Energy estimates have identified 1.3 billion tons of harvestable cellulosic biomass in the United States alone, which could theoretically be used to meet more than one-third of domestic transportation fuel demand. The Renewable Fuels Standard sets an annual goal of 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel by 2022, with 16 billion gallons coming from cellulosic ethanol.
POET hopes to play a significant role in meeting that. Beyond the Emmetsburg, Iowa plant, we intend to build additional cellulosic ethanol plants co-located with our existing biorefineries, which we believe represents up to a one billion gallon per year opportunity. Our joint venture also intends to license our integrated technology package and offer a turnkey design, engineering and construction package to third parties.
To learn more about the POET-DSM partnership, visit POETDSM.com. Or to learn more about our first project commercializing cellulosic ethanol, check out ProjectLIBERTY.com