Farmers Harvest Biomass for Cellulosic Ethanol

Cindy Zimmerman

Farmers in north central Iowa have harvested 61,000 tons of corn crop residue to produce cellulosic ethanol, but delivery to POET’s Project LIBERTY plant in Emmetsburg is contingent on funding of a federal program that provides incentives for biomass production.

Some 100 farmers are waiting for word on the status of the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) in the 2012 federal budget before delivering the bales to POET’s 22-acre biomass storage site in Emmetsburg, where the commercial cellulosic ethanol biorefinery is being constructed.

The biomass harvest is 5,000 tons more than last year and represents an additional 15 contracts with area farmers. POET has a target of 285,000 tons of biomass per year for Project LIBERTY to produce 25 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year starting in 2013.

“Biomass harvesting is moving along as planned, and I’m confident we’ll have a large and consistent supply of corn cobs and light stover once Project LIBERTY is running,” POET founder and CEO Jeff Broin said. “Both the farmers and POET Biomass personnel have learned a lot in the last few years about best practices in biomass harvesting, and that experience will pay dividends.”

The goal of these early harvests is to streamline the process for harvest, storage and delivery of biomass to Project LIBERTY. Approximately 300-400 bales will be part of ongoing biomass storage research, and up to 1,500 bales could be used for additional research.

Cellulosic, corn, Ethanol, POET