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S.D. company says new technology will squeeze more ethanol from corn

S.D. company says new technology will squeeze more ethanol from corn

By: By DIRK LAMMERS Associated Press Writer

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — A company that has been making ethanol from corn for more than 20 years says its ethanol research should allow it to squeeze 27 percent more fuel from each acre of the crop.
Poet, a privately owned ethanol producer in Sioux Falls, plans to expand its dry-mill ethanol plant in Emmetsburg, Iowa, to produce alternative fuel not only from corn kernels, but also the cobs and stalks normally left behind in the fields.
Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, who toured the company’s headquarters and research lab recently, said there is only so much ethanol that can be made from corn starch.
“It’s just a way of moving on to have further independence from foreign sources of energy,” he said. “It’s a way of doing more to clean up the environment, and it’s obviously going to put money in farmers’ pockets.”
So-called cellulosic ethanol is basically fuel made from plants or plant waste — something other than a corn kernel. Making fuel from this biomass costs about twice as much as cooking up corn-based fuel, government researchers say.
The U.S. Department of Energy earlier this year awarded $385 million to six companies hoping to build the nation’s first big biomass-to-fuel plants. Poet is slated to receive $80 million in grant money, which is part of the Bush administration’s goal of making cellulosic ethanol competitive by 2012.
Poet, formerly Broin Cos., plans to convert its 50-million-gallon-per-year Emmetsburg plant into one of the nation’s first commercial cellulosic biorefineries. Once complete, it is expected to produce 125 million gallons per year — 25 percent of them from corn cobs and fiber. That means each bushel of corn could yield 11 percent more fuel.
Jeff Broin, Poet’s president and chief executive officer, said focusing its cellulosic ethanol research on the corn plant is a natural for a firm that operates 20 ethanol plants in the heart of corn country.
“All of our existing facilities are located in the Midwest,” he said. “And of course they’re surrounded by cellulose — and that cellulose is actually corn stover, corn cobs.”
Published in The Messenger on 10.23.07

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