THE use of corn cobs as feedstock for the production of cellulosic ethanol after the corn has been removed is receiving additional financial support from the US Department of Energy (DOE).

The $US6.85 million will help POET, the world’s largest ethanol producer, fund the production of 700 tons of cellulosic biomass per day of operation.

Cobs are the feedstock for POET’s effort to commercialise 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.

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.

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.


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