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New Developments Bring Cellulosic Ethanol Closer to Reality

Two announcements from the ethanol industry this week show progress on the challenging issue of cost-effectively handling and transporting biomass for the production of cellulosic ethanol and getting it up to commercial scale. Logistics has been a key issue on many people’s minds.

At the Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo (FEW) in Denver this week, Jeff Broin, CEO, of POET, announced that his ethanol company has created a new division called POET Biomass. It will focus on managing the harvest and transportation logistics for corn cobs, waste wood and other biomass used for cellulosic ethanol and alternative energy projects at POET’s production facilities.

POET’s pilot plant in Scotland, SD, is already producing about 20,000 gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year. Moreover, plans are on schedule for producing 25 million gallons annually from the company’s Project Liberty plant in Emmetsburg, IA, in 2011.

The new division, says Scott Weishaar, vice president of commercial development, POET, “is here to make sure farmers have everything they need in order to play their important role in fueling our nation with both grain-based and cellulosic ethanol.”

Speaking about farmers, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports that the University of Tennessee (UT) has awarded switchgrass production contracts to 38 Tennessee farmers. The growers will produce switchgrass on a total of 1,900 acres this season.

Meanwhile, work progresses on a demo-scale cellulosic ethanol biorefinergy being built by UT and DuPont-Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol, LLC. The facility is expected to be operational by the end of this year.

Do you think that cellulosic ethanol on a commercial scale will become a reality? What are your concerns or questions? Share your thoughts by writing in.

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