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POET-DSM claims cellulosic biofuel breakthrough with new pretreatment system for increased production

POET-DSM Advanced Biofuels says it has achieved a major breakthrough in cellulosic biofuels production at its Project LIBERTY plant in Emmetsburg, Iowa. (Earlier post.) The company has solved the critical challenge in pretreatment, overcoming what has been the primary 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, in which the feedstock (corn cobs, leaves, husk) 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.

This is an enormous step forward for clean, American-made biofuel. 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 US and world.

—POET-DSM board member Jeff Lautt

POET-DSM said that 2017 has been a year of rapid progress in Emmetsburg:

  • Solved the challenge of pretreatment.

  • Announced construction of an on-site enzyme manufacturing facility to directly pipe DSM enzymes into the process. POET-DSM has an integrated process in which yeast and enzymes are used in concert with the feedstock.

  • Ramped up biomass purchasing in anticipation of increased production levels in 2018 Consistent policy is needed to enable this facility to be replicated in other locations.

POET-DSM Advanced Biofuels, LLC, is a 50/50 joint venture between Royal DSM and POET, LLC.


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