InterviewDSM/POET may finish US cellulosic ethanol plant by 2014

25 October 2012 23:01  [Source: ICIS news]

By Joseph Chang

NEW YORK (ICIS)--The Netherlands-based DSM and US ethanol producer POET are on track to complete their 25m gal/year (95m gal/year) joint venture cellulosic ethanol plant by late 2013 to early 2014, a DSM board member said on Thursday.

“We are fully on track and excited,” said Stephan Tanda, member of the board of management of DSM.

The feedstock for the plant, to be located in Emmetsburg, Iowa, will be corn stover. The capital investment of $250m (€193m) for the project is being split evenly by DSM and POET.

The new plant will be at the same site of POET’s corn ethanol facility.

POET will deal with collection, storage and pre-treatment of the biomass, while DSM will provide enzyme technology and the yeast for fermentation, said Tanda.

DSM’s technology will allow for the enzyme to be produced on-site – a key differentiator for the venture, noted the executive.

“Other companies working on cellulosic ethanol in the US are making enzymes in other plants. This involves a lot of water, a drying process, shipping to the location and then adding water again. We see on-site production as a inherent technological advantage,” Tanda said.

The executive also sees cellulosic ethanol as complementary to traditional corn ethanol.

“We don’t see corn ethanol capacity growing much. All the growth in US capacity will come from cellulosic,” said Tanda.

The companies plan to prove their technology package works efficiently at the first plant, and then license the package to other ethanol producers.

“The other POET plants are naturally potential licensees, but we are already talking to other parties,” said Tanda.

POET operates 27 traditional corn ethanol plants throughout the US.

The US Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) mandating the blending of 7.8bn gal of cellulosic ethanol by 2022 is critical to the project, said the executive.

“It is the key piece that gives some predictability to the business. Without the RFS, cellulosic ethanol will not happen. Both presidential candidates support this,” Tanda said.

($1 = €0.77)

By: Joseph Chang
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