Royal DSM, POET open ethanol plant in Iowa

At full capacity, Project Liberty plant can produce as much of 25 million gallons of ethanol per year

POET-DSM Advanced Biofuels LLC, a joint venture of Royal DSM and POET LLC, recently celebrated the grand opening of its first commercial cellulosic ethanol plant in Emmetsburg, Iowa.

The plant, named Project Liberty, converts baled corn cobs, leaves, husk and stalk into renewable fuel. The plant has now officially started up, processing its first batch of biomass into cellulosic ethanol and is moving forward toward continuous operation. At full capacity, it will convert 770 tons of biomass per day to produce ethanol at a rate of 20 million gallons per year, later ramping up to 25 million gallons per year.

The plant’s grand opening was attended by dignitaries including Willem-Alexander, King of the Netherlands; Tom Vilsack, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture; Michael Knotek, deputy undersecretary of the U.S. Department of Energy; Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and Iowa Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds.

Assuming the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) continues in the United States and depending on the adoption rate of cellulosic ethanol both in and outside the United States, POET-DSM Advanced Biofuels LLC has the potential to achieve net sales of about $250 million from bio-ethanol and license income by 2020 with EBITDA margins clearly above average.

The State of Iowa has contributed to make Project Liberty a reality by contributing $20 million in grants for capital costs and feedstock logistics. USDA invested $2.6 million to support the delivery of more than 58,000 dry tons of corn crop residue, helping establish the feedstock logistics network.