InterviewPOET-DSM sees US cellulosic ethanol start-up by end of Q2

18 February 2014 19:08  [Source: ICIS news]

POET-DSM plantBy Al Greenwood

ORLANDO, Florida (ICIS)--POET-DSM Advanced Biofuels expects to complete the start-up process for its US cellulosic ethanol complex by the end of the second quarter, an executive with the company said on Tuesday.

The plant should be mechanically completed by the start of Q2, said Steve Hartig, general manager, licencing for POET-DSM. He made his comments on the sidelines of the National Ethanol Conference.

The plant is being built in Iowa, and it should have a capacity of 25m gal/year (94m litres/year), he said.

For years, cellulosic-based production has been a goal for the ethanol industry as a possible way to provide producers with a potentially large and low-cost source for sugars that would not compete with food-based raw materials such as corn.

Companies, though, have struggled to develop a biomass-based process that can compete with corn, the main US feedstock for ethanol.

Right now, the POET-DSM plant will not immediately make ethanol at the same cost as corn-based product, Hartig said.

However, that could change once companies gain more experience and learn lessons in operating this first wave of commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plants, he said.

The POET-DSM plant is among three commercial-scale plants that could start up this year and that will use enzymes to extract sugars from biomass to produce ethanol.

This year, Abengoa expects to complete the start-up of its Hugoton project in Kansas. It will have a capacity of 25m gal/year.

By the end of this year, DuPont should start operations at a 30m gal/year cellulosic ethanol plant in Iowa.

Earlier in 2013, INEOS Bio started cellulosic ethanol production at an 8m gal/year plant in Florida. However, this plant relies on a gasification process to produce ethanol from biomass. It does not use enzymes.

POET-DSM is a joint venture made up of ethanol producer POET and the Dutch chemical producer Royal DSM.

The National Ethanol Conference lasts through Wednesday.

By: Al Greenwood
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