POET: Biofuels Digest’s 5-Minute Guide

October 15, 2012 |

Address: 4615 N. Lewis Ave., Sioux Falls, S.D. 57104

Year founded  1987

Company description: POET, the largest ethanol producer in the world, is a leader in biorefining through its efficient, vertically integrated approach to production. The 23-year-old company produces more than 1.7 billion gallons of ethanol and 10 billion pounds of high-protein animal feed annually from 27 production facilities nationwide. POET also operates a pilot-scale cellulosic ethanol plant, which uses corn cobs, leaves, husk and some stalk as feedstock, and will commercialize the process in Emmetsburg, Iowa. For more information, visit http://www.poet.com.

Major Investors -10,000 farmer investors in individual plants; POET, LLC.

Type of Technology(ies): Cellulosic ethanol conversion (enzymatic hydrolysis), Grain ethanol conversion (raw starch hydrolysis – BPX cold-cook process)

Feedstocks: corn, corn stover

Products: (e.g. ethanol, biobutanol, biodiesel, renewable diesel, renewable jet fuel, power, organic acids, bioplastics etc): grain ethanol, cellulosic ethanol (pilot scale), DDGS, zein, carbon dioxide (beverage markets), corn oil


Product Cost : N/a


Offtake partners: POET is an integrated company. Ethanol is marketed by POET Ethanol Products, DDGS and other co-products by POET Nutrition.


Past Milestones:

1.      Cellulosic ethanol advancement (Project LIBERTY):

– technology ready for commercial scale

– received conditional commitment for $105 million loan guarantee from Department of Energy (2011) for Project LIBERTY construction

– first commercial-scale biomass harvest of 56,000 tons for cellulosic ethanol in Emmetsburg, Iowa (2010-2011)

– started construction with a 22-acre biomass stackyard at Project LIBERTY site with continuing work this fall (2012)

– created JV with DSM – POET-DSM, to accelerate and finance deployment at scale.

2.      Developed new Products:

– branded zein product “Inviz™,” which can be used as a gum base or in films, packaging, adhesives, coatings, glazes and more.

– branded corn oil “Voila™,” which is being sold to biodiesel producers. Plan to install technology to all 27 plants, with a potential of enough corn oil to supply feedstock for 50 million gallons of biodiesel per year.


3.      Green technology

– Total Water Recovery in 18 POET plants, which has reduced overall water use by more than 650 million gallons of water per year over 2009 baseline. Company-wide average water use per gallon of ethanol now at 2.6

– Waste heat recovery system saves energy in POET Biorefining – Caro. POET also has three plants using Combined Heat and Power processes

– landfill gas and a solid-fuel boiler at POET Biorefining – Chancellor replaces natural gas


Future Milestones

1.      Startup of POET’s first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant, Project LIBERTY, a planned 25 million-gallon-per-year plant that uses corn cobs, leaves, husks and some stalk to produce cellulosic ethanol and biogas.

2.      Reduce water use to 2.33 gallons of water per gallon of grain-based ethanol produced. Continue to reduce greenhouse gas intensity and sustainability of grain-based ethanol production.

3.      Expansion of existing co-products and continued development of new bioproducts to displace those made by petroleum.

Business Model: (e.g. owner-operator, technology licensor, fee-based industry supplier, investor) owner-operator


Competitive Edge(s): Vertically integrated system, large network of plants provides shared knowledge of process efficiencies, millions spent annually on research leads to breakthroughs each year in every step of the process.


Research, or Manufacturing Partnerships or Alliances. POET works with a wide variety of universities, government agencies and private companies.

Stage  (Bench, pilot, demonstration, commercial): 27 grain-based ethanol plants, 1 pilot-scale cellulosic ethanol plant, planned commercial cellulosic ethanol plant for startup in 2013.


Website URL: www.poet.com

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Category: 5-Minute Guide

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