Poet Research Center in Scotland, S.D., is producing cellulosic ethanol at a pilot scale.

Following a successful startup in the fourth quarter of 2008, Poet Research Center is producing cellulosic ethanol at a pilot scale, completing a crucial step toward development of commercially viable cellulosic ethanol. The plant is producing ethanol at a rate of 20,000 gal/yr using corn cobs as feedstock. The $8 million endeavor is a precursor to the $200 million Project Liberty, a commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant that is expected to begin production in 2011.

The pilot plant is located in Scotland, S.D., the site of a 9 million gallon per year starch ethanol production facility and a starch pilot facility. Poet is pursuing an integrated starch- and cellulose-to-ethanol biorefinery model that could see cellulosic production capacity added to their 26 plants that currently produce 1.5 billion gallons of ethanol from corn per year.

"The startup of the pilot scale facility has been extremely smooth," said Poet CEO Jeff Broin, who was in Scotland to announce the opening of the plant. "After producing 1,000 gallons, we've already been able to validate all of what we learned in the lab and believe the process will be ready for commercialization when we start construction on Project Liberty next year."

To see a documentary about Poet’s pilot cellulosic ethanol plant, visit www.poet.com/cellulosedocumentary.htm.