US POET plans massive cellulosic ethanol roll out by 2022

15 June 2010 22:34  [Source: ICIS news]

ST LOUIS, Missouri (ICIS news)--US ethanol maker POET plans to play a role in the production of some 3.5bn gal/year (13.2bn litres/year) of cellulosic ethanol by 2022, pledging to make the biofuel at its own facilities and license its technology to other producers, the company said on Tuesday.

The company plans to break ground at its first commercial cellulosic ethanol plant in Emmetsburg, Iowa, later this year. The unit will produce 25m gal/year of ethanol using corn cobs as a feedstock.

“It will be the first of many,” said chief executive Jeff Broin at the Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo in St Louis.

Unlike corn ethanol, cellulosic ethanol is made from non-edible feedstocks, such as wood chips, switchgrass and municipal waste.

Technology to produce cellulosic ethanol already exists, but large-scale production is still uneconomic due to high production costs.

Broin called on US legislators to play a role in overcoming the remaining hurdles to commercialising cellulosic ethanol production.

Policy makers must provide access to the market and stability to attract the large amount of capital that would be required to finance the process, he said.

POET is a staunch advocate of higher ethanol blends, which US ethanol makers claim is vital to attract more investments into cellulosic ethanol production.

The US limits ethanol blending in gasoline to 10%, but regulators are considering an industry proposal to raise the cap to 15%.

POET is the largest US producer of ethanol with 1.6bn gal/year of capacity at 26 plants.

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