POET: Biofuels Digest’s 2015 5-Minute Guide

April 14, 2015 |

5-Minute-Guide-logoPOET, the largest ethanol producer in the world, is a leader in biorefining through its efficient, vertically integrated approach to production. Founded in 1987, the 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.

Rankings and Awards

50 Hottest Companies in Bioenergy, #12, 2014/15

Biofuels Digest Awards, 2013 Industrial Symbiosis — POET-DSM


Profiled in: 12 Bellwether Biofuels Projects for 2013

Major Investors

6,000 farmer investors in individual plants; POET, LLC.

Type of Technology

Cellulosic ethanol conversion (enzymatic hydrolysis), Grain ethanol conversion (raw starch hydrolysis – BPX cold-cook process)


Corn, corn stover


Ethanol, DDGS, zein, carbon dioxide (beverage markets), corn oil

Offtake partners

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

Past Milestones

In February 2015, POET announced that it has partnered with Project Gaia to replace wood-burning stoves with clean, ethanol-fueled cook stoves. The first 6,200 gallons of POET’s ethanol cleared Haitian customs at the end of 2014. Founder and Executive Chairman of the Board Jeff Broin donated approximately 12,000 gallons of ethanol to jumpstart the project.

In September 2014, POET-DSM Advanced Biofuels, a joint venture of Royal DSM and POET formally its cellulosic ethanol Project Liberty opened in Emmetsburg, Iowa. Project LIBERTY converts baled corn cobs, leaves, husk and stalk into renewable fuel. The plant has now officially started up, processing its first batch of biomass into cellulosic ethanol and is moving forward toward continuous operation. At full capacity, it will convert 770 tons of biomass per day to produce ethanol at a rate of 20 million gallons per year, later ramping up to 25 million gallons per year.

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.

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

– Developed 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 tech– 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. 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.

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

Business Model


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.


27 grain-based ethanol plants, 1 pilot-scale cellulosic ethanol plant, 1 commercial cellulosic ethanol plant, 1 pilot-scale grain ethanol facility and a bench scale facility.

More on the company

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