POET: Biofuels Digest’s 2014 5-Minute Guide

February 13, 2014 |

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-DSM Advanced Biofuels, LLC, is a 50/50 joint venture between Royal DSM and POET, LLC. Based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the company is a cooperative effort of two innovators that provides a key to unlocking the opportunity of converting corn crop residue into cellulosic bio-ethanol. Built on the strengths of both companies, the joint venture has a critical mission: to make cellulosic bio-ethanol competitive with corn bio-ethanol, the most competitive renewable liquid transportation fuel on the US market today. Drawing on the deep expertise and experience of POET and DSM in different areas of converting cellulosic biomass into bio-ethanol, POET – DSM Advanced Biofuels will have its first commercial-scale plant co-located with POET’ Biorefining — Emmetsburg in Emmetsburg, Iowa. Based on this plant, the JV plans to globally license an integrated technology package for the conversion of corn crop residue to cellulosic bio-ethanol. More information: www.poetdsm.com

It’s a 55MGPY corn plant, so adding the 20-25MGPY will  boost capacity by 35-45%

Poet Biomass has aggregated 100,000 tons of biomass for this year (56,000 tons was a previous year. Farmers are still waiting to see how BCAP hammers out, now that it’s included in the new Farm Bill.


Landed #5 in the 50 Hottest Companies in Bioenergy

Biofuels Digest Awards

2013 Industrial Symbiosis — POET-DSM

Symbiosis — you might call it a “bolt-on” strategy, or “co-location”. Unlocking the power of symbiosis is what led us to conclude in our 10 Part Bioenergy project of the Future series: “First, start with an ethanol plant.”

That’s what POET-DSM has done in Emmetsburg, Iowa. It’s a traditional corn ethanol plant with a cellulosic bolt-on, that boosts overall capacity by 20 percent. Known as Project LIBERTY, it will produce 20 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel per year – later ramping up to 25 million gallons – from corn cobs, leaves, husk and some stalk. Commissioning for select parts of the process is scheduled to begin in January.

When operational, the facility will accept 300,000 tons of biomass but for now, area farmers harvested 56,000 tons of corn cobs, leaves, husks and some stalk this past fall. Farmers had been waiting to deliver the biomass to POET while guidelines for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) were finalized. Farmers on last week began completing the application process, and they started delivering bales soon after.

“Removing approximately one ton of biomass out of the average 4.26 tons available per acre,” POET said in a release, “will not require any drastic changes in fertilizer management for producers choosing to participate in the program.

The facility will eventually consume 300,000 tons or more of biomass, which according to POET’s released figures could be sustainably harvested from a 468 square-mile area. By contrast, a 100 Mgy corn ethanol plant can be sustained by a 325 square-mile area using POET’s process.


Profiled in: 12 Bellwether Biofuels Projects for 2013

Featured in: POET-DSM reports key technology, process purchase for commercial cellulosic bio-ethanol

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). In 2013-14, the company aggregated 100,000 tons of biomass.

– started construction with a 22-acre biomass stackyard at Project LIBERTY site

– 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. As of 2013, 25 of POET’s biorefineries have installed the company’s corn oil technology as a protection against challenging ethanol margins, according to CEO Jeff Lautt. The company’s total corn oil capacity now sits at 250,000 tons per year, enough feedstock to produce 68m 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

In March 2013, Chromatin said it had entered into an agreement with POET, LLC, one of the world’s largest ethanol producers, to use sorghum grown in South Dakota in the production of ethanol.

Chromatin said the agreement covers up to 4,400 acres of sorghum grain that will be grown in South Dakota. It will be used in POET’s Chancellor plant, which is located about 20 miles southwest of POET’s headquarters in Sioux Falls, SD. Chancellor is POET’s largest plant and utilizes about 35 million bushels of corn to produce 110 million gallons of ethanol annually.

Chromatin said South Dakota growers are attracted to sorghum as a grain source because it is easy to grow, has low fertilizer and water needs and is tolerant to both heat and drought conditions. South Dakota growers near the Platte River already familiar with the benefits of growing grain sorghum now have an alternative market for their grain. In addition, the residue from the harvest of sorghum grain can be used as high quality animal feed.

Ethanol plants like those owned by POET can realize the benefits of alternative crops to reduce feedstock costs, to improve their carbon footprint and to source feedstock from locally grown energy-efficient crops. Sorghum grown in South Dakota has proven to be cost effective and energy efficient.

Future Milestones

1. POET-DSM’s Emmetsburg commercial cellulosic bioethanol plant remains on-schedule for startup in the first part of 2014. Construction progress to date includes a completed biomass receiving and grinding building, completed saccharification, fermentation tanks, and processing areas, as well as the completed cooling tower and underground utilities. Project LIBERTY will produce up to 20 million gallons.

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:  owner-operator

Competitive Edge: 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: 27 grain-based ethanol plants, 1 pilot-scale cellulosic ethanol plant, planned commercial cellulosic ethanol plant for startup in 2013.

More on the company

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Category: 5-Minute Guide

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