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POET-DSM celebrates grand opening of Project Liberty

POET-DSM Advanced Biofuels, LLC, a joint venture of the Dutch Royal DSM and POET, LLC, celebrated the grand opening of Project Liberty in Emmetsburg, Iowa, today. It is America’s first commercial cellulosic ethanol plant. A video of the grand opening ceremony will be available soon at

“This event represents more than just the opening of a manufacturing facility; it is in our opinion an important and historic event for industry, science, policymakers and leaders on the issues of CO2 reduction and climate change, economic development and energy security, advocating sustainability,” stated Royal DSM.

The grand opening was attended by His Majesty Willem-Alexander, King of the Netherlands; USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack; the Department of Energy’s Deputy Under Secretary Michael Knotek; Governor Terry Branstad and Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds of Iowa; other dignitaries and thousands of guests.

Project Liberty is processing its first batch of corn stover into cellulosic ethanol. The technology used in this facility can also be applied using other crop residues as feedstock. At full capacity, Project Liberty 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. After the start-up phase, POET-DSM will offer licenses to the technology.

Assuming that the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is not repealed and depending on the adoption rate of cellulosic ethanol both in and outside the United States, POET-DSM reports that it has the potential to achieve net sales of about $250 million from bio-ethanol and license income by 2020.

In prepared comments for the grand opening, Agriculture Secretary Vilsack said, “The Project Liberty opening demonstrates that America is ready for advanced renewable energy production. USDA invested to help bring this facility online because it is boosting America's energy independence, cutting carbon pollution, and holds great promise for our domestic agriculture and energy industries.”

Vilsack added that the facility has already created local jobs and opportunities for farmers. Project Liberty is noted to employ more than 50 people directly. Biomass harvesting is creating another 200 indirect jobs in the community and hundreds of people were involved in the plant’s construction. The Emmetsburg plant also is expected to spend approximately $20 million annually purchasing biomass from area farmers.

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