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RSS By: Jeanne Bernick, Top Producer

Jeanne, Top Producer Editor, grew up on a beef cattle operation in Southwest Missouri and now writes from the heart of corn country in Eastern Iowa.

It's not chemistry, it's microbiology

Jan 12, 2009
Give him seven to nine years, and Poet CEO Jeff Broin says you will see the cost of producing cellulosic ethanol competitive with that of grain-based ethanol. Advances in enzyme technology are moving the process of making fuel from cellulose materials forward at warp speed.
“It’s not chemistry, it’s microbiology,” Broin said in a media teleconference today announcing the Poet Research Center in Scotland, S.D. is now producing cellulosic ethanol on a pilot scale. “And microbiology, from what I have seen in my short lifetime, can be almost infinitely improved.”
The Scotland pilot plant is already producing ethanol at a rate of 20,000 gallons per year using corn cobs as feedstock. Research at the pilot facility is all in preparation for the $200 million Project Liberty, a commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant that will begin production in 2011.
A top goal for the pilot plant is to lower the cost of producing cellulosic ethanol. Today, cellulosic ethanol costs a dollar a gallon more than grain-based ethanol, Broin says. That may sound like a lot, but a year and half a go it was several dollars higher.
“By the time Project Liberty comes online, it is our intention to be 50 cents a gallon above grain-based ethanol,” Broin says. “Within 5-7 years we believe we can be competitive with grain based ethanol through advancements in technology.”
            Learn more and even watch a documentary of the pilot plant at
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