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POET-DSM announces cellulosic biofuel breakthrough

POET-DSM Advanced Biofuels announced that it has achieved a major breakthrough in cellulosic biofuels production at its Project LIBERTY plant in Emmetsburg, Iowa, U.S.A. The company has solved the critical challenge in pretreatment, overcoming what has been the No. 1 hurdle to commercialization for producers around the world. Project LIBERTY is now running pretreatment at 80% uptime.

Pretreatment is the first stage in cellulosic biofuels production, where the feedstock such as corn cobs, leaves and husks, is processed so that enzymes and yeast can access the cellulosic sugars and ferment them into biofuel. POET-DSM and other producers have identified this stage in the past as the major chokepoint in commercial production.

With a newly installed pretreatment system, designed by POET engineers, POET-DSM is now able to direct its attention to fine-tuning downstream processes and prepare for future licensing efforts that will spread this technology around the world.

“Commercializing new technology is always a challenging task, and I’m proud of the commitment from our team in overcoming this major challenge and developing a path for replicating the technology at facilities across the U.S. and the world,” said POET-DSM board member Jeff Lautt.

POET-DSM Advanced Biofuels, LLC, is a 50-50 joint venture between Royal DSM and POET, LLC based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, U.S.A. Drawing on the deep expertise and experience of POET and DSM in different areas of converting cellulosic biomass into bio-ethanol, POET-DSM Advanced Biofuels has built its first commercial-scale plant co-located with POET Biorefining – Emmetsburg. Based on this plant, the JV plans to globally license an integrated technology package for the conversion of corn crop residue to cellulosic bio-ethanol.