Not too long ago, I had a conversation about cellulosic ethanol and attacks on the RFS with a Royal DSM board member.
By Holly Jessen | September 16, 2013
Stephan Tanda, a member of DSM's managing board, is excited about the future of cellulosic ethanol. As most of you are already well aware, Poet LLC and DSM are working together to build Project Liberty, a cellulosic ethanol plant currently under construction in Emmetsburg, Iowa. Poet-DSM Advanced Biofuels is scheduled to begin operations in early 2014, with an initial capacity of 20 MMgy but ramping up to 25 MMgy at a later date.
“Cellulosic has been long in coming,” he said. “This is every leading-edge technology. It is kind of moon shot type territory. To now see it come to fruition and see that technology put in use, that is very exciting.”
The two companies don’t plan to stop there. “We fully expect to license the technology, and that goes from collection to pretreatment, the enzymes, the yeast, the whole operating system,” Tanda told me. Obviously Poet’s 26 other ethanol plants are “obvious targets” for co-locating first and second-generation plants, but licensing discussions are also ongoing with other parties. “We are already talking to potential investors who are interested in putting plants in,” he said.
In his travels to many other areas of the world, Tanda always brags about the renewable fuel standard (RFS) and how the forward-thinking policy has created the biofuels industry. “Of course, the second generation wouldn’t be there without the first generation,” he said, “and it has created a completely different energy equation.”
Obviously, there are those, such as the American Petroleum Institute, who would like to modify or even repeal the RFS. In fact, when Tanda and I talked, he was actually in Washington, D.C., speaking to legislators about the importance of maintaining the energy policy. Clearly, the RFS must be defended in order to protect the ind