POET Reduces Cellulosic Ethanol Production Cost from $4.13 to $2.35/Gallon in First Year of Pilot Operation; <$2.00/Gallon Target for Commercial Start
Over the first year of operations of its pilot-scale cellulosic ethanol plant in South Dakota (earlier post), POET has reduced its per gallon production cost from $4.13 to $2.35, exceeding its expectations. Cost reduction came via reductions in energy usage, enzyme costs, raw material requirements and capital expenses. The pilot plant uses corn cobs for feedstock.
The company’s goal is to be below $2 per gallon by the time of the commercial start-up of its Project LIBERTY (Launch of an Integrated Bio-refinery with Eco-sustainable and Renewable Technologies in Y2009) plant, a planned 25 million-gallon-per-year cellulosic ethanol facility in Emmetsburg, Iowa. (Earlier post.)
POET has been working on cellulosic ethanol for close to a decade and there were some days that I wasn’t sure we’d be successful. While we still have some challenges ahead, I can say unequivocably that Project LIBERTY will be commercially viable by the time we start up the plant.—Jeff Broin, CEO of POET
Broin pointed to several areas of progress in the production process that helped them achieve the overall cost reduction:
Chemical raw materials required in the process have been reduced, resulting in an operating cost savings of $0.20 per gallon.
The energy used in the pretreatment process has been reduced by more than half.
Alternative energy technology has been demonstrated to provide all of the energy for the cellulosic ethanol plant and at least 80% of the adjacent corn-based plant.
Enzyme cost has been cut in half and is expected to decline by start-up of Project LIBERTY.
Through continuous optimization of the process, entire unit operations have been eliminated, reducing overall capital cost by more than 40%.
Dr. Mark Stowers, Senior Vice President of Science and Technology for POET, said that there are some promising areas for future cost reductions in the cellulosic production process.
There are still several opportunities to make the process more efficient, particularly in fermentation. Additionally our enzyme partners have committed to significant additional cost reductions. But significant gains can also be made once we start up the commercial facility and POET uses its 20+ year history in biorefining to drive cost reductions and efficiency improvements in the process.—Dr. Stowers
|Dr. Mark Stowers, Senior Vice President of Science & Technology talks about the cost savings that POET has achieved in cellulosic ethanol production. Source: POET.|
POET’s pilot-scale plant has produced approximately 20,000 gallons of cellulosic ethanol since it started producing on November 18, 2008.
POET, the largest ethanol producer in the world, is a leader in biorefining through its efficient, vertically integrated approach to production. The 20-year-old company produces more than 1.54 billion gallons of ethanol annually from 26 production facilities nationwide. POET recently started up a pilot-scale cellulosic ethanol plant, which uses corn cobs as feedstock, and will commercialize the process in Emmetsburg, Iowa.