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POET sets cob-harvest field day on Nov. 3

By Staff | Oct 16, 2009

EMMETSBURG – Area farmers will see new and pre-commercial equipment in action harvesting corn cobs for cellulosic ethanol next month at its Project LIBERTY Field Day in Emmetsburg, starting at 9:30 a.m., Nov. 3 at its future cellulosic plant site.

Farmers, agricultural equipment manufacturers, POET representatives and state and federal officials will attend the event, which will feature live demonstrations of equipment from leading manufacturers and an informational session for area farmers on the opportunities afforded them by harvesting biomass for cellulosic ethanol.

“We’re really excited to show farmers all the new developments in corn cob harvesting,” said Jim Sturdevant, Project LIBERTY director. “We’ve seen significant strides in not only development of cob harvesting technology, but in opportunities through incentives for farmers to benefit from this new revenue steam.”

The event will feature morning and afternoon rounds of equipment demonstrations separated by lunch and a short program. Hundreds of farmers attended the event last year, and this year will feature new options for farms of all sizes.

Corn cobs are the feedstock of choice for POET’s effort to commercialize cellulosic ethanol, known as Project LIBERTY. The project will be a 25 million-gallon-per-year cellulosic ethanol plant co-located with the current grain ethanol plant.

The target date for startup is late 2011. POET’s pilot-scale plant in Scotland, S.D., is already producing cellulosic ethanol at a rate of approximately 20,000 gallons per year.

Fourteen farmers in the Emmetsburg area will run cob harvests this year with pre-commercial equipment. POET continues to develop the infrastructure for harvesting, storing and transporting cobs for use in ethanol production.

That effort got a boost recently when the U.S. Department of Energy announced a $6.85 million funding increase to an existing grant for feedstock development. Negotiations are under way for another $13.15 million funding increase, also for feedstock.

POET, the largest ethanol producer in the world, is a leader in biorefining through its efficient, vertically integrated approach to production. The 22-year-old company produces more than 1.54 billion gallons of ethanol annually from 26 production facilities nationwide.

POET recently started up a pilot-scale cellulosic ethanol plant, which uses corn cobs as feedstock, and will commercialize the process in Emmetsburg.

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