On September 14 POET Biorefining, formerly the Broin Companies, opened their 21st ethanol production facility, a 65 million gallon per year plant that brings Poet's total capacity to 1.1 billion gallons per year of corn ethanol, making POET the largest producer of ethanol in the world.
The facility, the 27th (including administrative facilites) constructed by POET since they were founded 20 years ago, is equipped with technology that decreases its environmental footprint. That technology includes POET’s patent-pending BPX™ process that eliminates the need for heat in the cooking process of producing ethanol, reducing energy usage by 8-15 percent in comparison with conventional plants. It will also be outfitted with a regenerative thermal oxidizer that eliminates up to 99.9 percent of air emissions.
The BPX process is a patent-pending raw starch hydrolysis process that converts starch to sugar, which then ferments to ethanol without heat. The process not only reduces energy costs, but also releases additional starch content for conversion to ethanol, increases protein content and quality of co-products, increases co-product flowability, potentially increases plant throughput and significantly decreases plant emissions.
POET Biorefining - Portland, IN will utilize 22 million bushels of corn from the area to produce 65 million gallons of ethanol and 178,000 tons of Dakota Gold Enhanced Nutrition Distillers Products™ per year. The $105 million facility will provide around 40 jobs with an annual payroll of about $2 million.
In February 2007 POET and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) agreed to jointly fund the development of a cellulosic ethanol plant. The DOE announced a grant that will fund a portion of Poet's $200 million expansion of a conventional corn dry mill facility in Emmetsburg, Iowa into a bio-refinery that will include production of cellulosic ethanol from corn cobs and stover.
The project will convert a conventional corn dry mill facility in Emmetsburg, Iowa into a commercial scale biorefinery designed to utilize advanced corn fractionation and lignocellulosic conversion technologies to produce ethanol from corn fiber and corn cobs and stover. Known as Project LIBERTY, the expansion will utilize an existing infrastructure with projected costs for the increased capabilities at just over $200 million dollars. The expansion will take approximately 30 months and is slated to begin as soon as the terms of the agreement with the DOE are finalized. Discusions of the final details of that agreement are still underway.
Poet is currently able to produce about 435 gallons of ethanol per acre (based on 150 bushels per acre). Cellulosic ethanol production from corn cobs adds another 80 gallons per acre and fractionated fiber adds another 40 gallons per acre, potentially bringing each acre’s ethanol production to more than 550 gallons.
To complement their own technology, POET has forged relationships with other leaders in the cellulosic ethanol field. It has licensed a unique integrated lignocellulose conversion technology package developed by DuPont that converts high volumes of both the cellulose and hemicellulose in corn plants into ethanol. They are also collaborating with Novozymes, a world leader in industrial biotechnology, on providing state-of-the-art enzyme technology in the cellulosic biomass field.
POET is taking two phases to producing cellulosic ethanol, the first phase will use only the cobs and the second phase will use as much of the rest of the plant as possible without comprimising soil quality.
By adding cellulosic production to an existing grain ethanol plant, POET will be able to produce 11 percent more ethanol from a bushel of corn, 27 percent more from an acre of corn, while almost completely eliminating fossil fuel consumption and decreasing water usage by 24 percent. In the future, in cellulosic plants, they will use some of the leftover lignin to power the entire facility and almost, or possibly completely, eliminate the need to power the facility with any fossil energy.
Broin changed its name to POET on 3/29/2007. The change was made by the company in order to strengthen its communications, unify its several companies under one brand and better reflect its current position.
At the annoucement event POET said they wanted a name that would reflect the unique nature of their organization. "We wanted a name that would represent, rather than describe, who we are and what we do. As a poet takes everyday words and turns them into something valuable and beautiful; we use creativity that comes from common sense to leave things better than we found them."