POET-DSM’s long-anticipated Project LIBERTY, the US’ first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant to use corn waste as a feedstock (earlier post), began production today. Once operating at full, commercial-scale, the biorefinery in Emmetsburg, Iowa will produce 25 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year.
Developed with the support of approximately $100 million in investments and research from the US Department of Energy, the facilities use biochemical conversion technologies such as yeast and enzymes to convert cellulosic biomass into transportation fuels.
Project LIBERTY will produce cellulosic ethanol from corncobs, leaves, husks, and corn stalk harvested by local farmers located within a 30- to 40-mile radius of the plant, producing 2,600,000 MMBTu (or million British Thermal Units) per year from the anaerobic digester and solid fuel boiler to power the entire facility as well as POET-DSM’s co-located existing corn ethanol plant. This is enough to power about 70,000 American homes for a year.
The Department of Energy has supported this project’s engineering, construction, biomass collection, and infrastructure through approximately $100 million in cost-shared support over seven years, beginning in 2007.
Project LIBERTY is the US’ second commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol biorefinery to come online. In 2013, INEOS Bio’s Indian River BioEnergy Center in Vero Beach, Florida, began producing 8 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year from vegetative, yard, and municipal solid waste. Project LIBERTY will serve as a test bed for producing cellulosic ethanol with biochemical conversion technologies, helping to inform the design and construction of other advanced biofuels projects.