Cellulosic bio-ethanol is poised to see large scale production for the first time next year. Poet-DSM Advanced Biofuels, LLC, is ready to start construction of a plant in early 2014 that will produce 20 million gallons of cellulosic bio-ethanol annually, later ramping up to 25 million gallons. That’s a lot, but to compare, the US uses 8.7 million barrels of gasoline per day (2011 average), not counting diesel fuel, and the US makes an average 832,000 barrels of corn-based ethanol each day.
Poet-DSM’s Project Liberty will make the bio-ethanol from corn cobs, leaves, husks and stalk. The plant is being built in Emmetsburg, IA, by the two companies who formed the Poet-DSM 50/50 joint venture – major ethanol producer Poet, LLC, and global science-based company Royal DSM. Some of the plant already has been built on the facility; a biomass receiving and grinding building, which can process about 770 tons of biomass per day, is nearly complete and other sections are in the works. The next steps include continued erection of tanks, concrete, plumbing, underground electrical and installation of equipment. Once it’s all functioning this fall, farmers in the area will be delivering an expected 120,000 tons of biomass bales to Project Liberty.