The production of cellulosic ethanol is receiving more support from the U.S. Department of Energy. The additional funds will help POET, the world's largest ethanol producer; find 700 tons of cellulosic biomass per day of operation. The Department of Energy has pledged an additional $6.85 million to an existing grant. This is the first of two funding increases from DOE to help establish a market for corn cobs. The second, expected next year, is estimated to provide an additional $13.15 million.
Cobs are the feedstock for POET's effort to commercialize cellulosic ethanol, Project
LIBERTY, which will be built in Emmetsburg, Iowa. The grant increases will play a key role in establishing corn cobs as a viable commodity and setting the stage for corn cob harvesting across the United States.
The additional funds will be used to develop the feedstock infrastructure for cellulosic ethanol production. POET will work with equipment manufacturers to help speed the process of getting cob-harvesting technology into fields around Emmetsburg and will provide incentives for early adopters of cob harvesting.
Project LIBERTY is a 25 million-gallon-per-year cellulosic ethanol plant that will be attached to the current grain ethanol plant in Emmetsburg. Operations are scheduled to begin in late 2011. POET has operated a pilot-scale cellulosic ethanol plant in Scotland, South Dakota since November of 2008.