POET Research Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of POET LLC, one of the world’s largest ethanol producers, and Agrivida, Inc., a developer of biotechnology platforms for feedstock and feedstock processing, signed a technology collaboration joint development agreement in the field of cellulosic ethanol.
Under the terms of the four-year agreement POET and Agrivida will develop Agrivida’s technology platforms with the goal of significantly reducing the capital and operating costs of commercial cellulosic ethanol production facilities.
POET and Agrivida will collaborate to develop and test Agrivida’s engineered corn stover feedstock and feedstock processing technology for integration with POET’s existing commercial cellulosic technology. Agrivida is developing traits engineered to improve the pretreatment of corn stover and make it easier to break down cellulose while reducing the cost of enzymatic application.
Agrivida will optimize its proprietary corn stover feedstock to provide POET with substantial operating cost savings. POET will evaluate and test Agrivida’s proprietary, low-severity feedstock processing technology, which is targeted to provide significant capital and operating cost savings at commercial facilities.
As one of the world’s largest producers of corn ethanol, POET has been actively developing cellulosic bio-ethanol for more than a decade. In November, 2008, the company started operating a cellulosic bio-ethanol pilot plant at its research center in Scotland, South Dakota. For the past five years, POET has been working with farmers to bale, transport and store corn crop residue—the cobs, leaves, husks and some stalk left in the field after the grain harvest.
If the technology is deployed at POET’s network of 27 existing corn ethanol plants, it could produce up to one billion gallons of cellulosic bio-ethanol per year. Recently, POET entered into a Joint Venture with Royal DSM to bring Project Liberty, POET’s first planned cellulosic facility, into commercial reality. The facility is slated to begin operations near the end of 2013.
Over the past nine years, Agrivida has been actively developing its protein-engineering expertise to produce high-performance feedstocks for bio-based fuels, chemicals and animal feed. Agrivida has developed its technology to produce ultra-low cost fermentable sugars from biomass at high conversion efficiencies. Crops under development include corn (for stover), sorghum and switch grass.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that in the United States as many as 350-400 new bio-refineries will have to be constructed by 2022 to meet the volume requirement of 16 billion gallons/year of cellulosic bio-ethanol under the Renewable Fuel Standard.