Poet-DSM announces grand opening for Project Liberty

By Holly Jessen | August 13, 2014

Poet-DSM has planned a Sept. 3 grand opening celebration at the Project Liberty cellulosic ethanol plant in Emmetsberg, Iowa. It’s a milestone the two companies and many other interested stakeholders have been waiting for eagerly. “Needless to say, we’ve been working hard to bringing project where it is today,” Larry Ward, project director with Poet-DSM told Ethanol Producer Magazine. “With the upcoming grand opening were thrilled to be able to share the excitement, the technology and the operation with those outside our organization.”

The event is open to the public and will feature plant tours starting at 9 a.m., the grand opening ceremony at 11 a.m. and more. There will also be a flyover of the ethanol-powered Vanguard Squadron. 

Project Liberty is currently in the commissioning process, with biomass going through the pretreatment process in preparation for production of the first gallons. Every day, the facility will process 770 tons of corn cobs, leaves, husk and some corn stalk to produce 20 MMgy of cellulosic ethanol, eventually ramping up to 25 MMgy. “By this point next year, I have no reason not to believe that we won’t have the capacity to produce 25 MMgy,” Hugh Welsh, president of DSM North American, told EPM.

It took years and plenty of patience to develop the technology that will be utilized at Project Liberty, Welsh said, adding that the facility will serve as a full-scale demonstration plant. “We’ll continue to optimize the plant and we’ll continue to look for opportunities to out-license our technology,” he said, adding that includes the bioprocessing technology as well as the yeast and enzymes technology.

Ward echoed the need for continued optimization. Although the companies have a high level of confidence in the current technology, the reality is that the facility is a first of its kind. “While it sometimes sounds easy, the reality is, it’s not easy,” he said.

It’s the same type of process that is continually happening at corn starch ethanol plants. First generation ethanol production has much improved conversion and operating efficiencies from the early years of the industry. “We expect and we know we will see the same types of advancement in technology and operations as we bring this plant into reality and getting it into operations,” Ward said.