POET Project Liberty - Putnam Sentinel
This graphic depicts how POET intends for its plants to operate once cellulose ethanol production is fully integrated into the company's 28 plants. (graphic submitted)

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LEIPSIC — “Last year POET produced 1.7 billion gallons of Ethanol. That’s in a year. POET is now the largest producer of biofuel in the country. We’re very proud of that,” says Ken Miceli, General Manager of POET Biorefining in Leipsic as he leads roughly two dozen participants of a hard hat tour organized by the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce through a presentation on POET’s operations. “Our goal for this year is 1.8 billion.”

“We use, typically, between 80,000 and 100,000 bushels [of corn] a day,” Miceli continues. “We test that to make sure we’re getting good product. We always want to make sure we get a good batch of corn. Not too much water, which isn’t good for making alcohol. We dry it. We mill it down into very fine powder. It’s very much like flour. We then slurry that with recycled water.”

The next part of the process, as Miceli describes in his high-level overview, involves the patented no-heat process POET uses to ‘cook’ the slurried grains in order to make ethanol. “We just add yeast and enzymes. They break down the starches in the corn into simple sugars, and then the yeast does the job. It ferments in our six fermentation tanks and creates what we call ‘beer.’ From there, we distill that to separate the ethanol out from the solids and water. The ethanol goes out to the two big storage tanks. We further process the water and solids. None of it is wasted.”

The system Miceli describes is an integrated one where waste streams turn into...

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