Corn cobs: from trash to treasure
Given the fact that the Emmetsburg facility already contracts corn from local growers, contracting cellulosic feedstock from local growers is a natural progression. The farmers who will provide POET with the cobs will be responsible for harvesting the cobs and leaving them at the edges of their fields. POET or a third party will pick up and transport the cobs to the biorefinery.
On Nov. 6 POET hosted a field day to give Iowa corn growers a chance to look at equipment prototypes to harvest corn cobs. Manufacturing companies such as John Deere, Case IH, Demco, CLAAS, Vermeer, Wildcat and others attended the field day to present their cob harvesting prototypes to more than 750 people. Sturdevant said that future POET projects may process other cellulosic feedstocks, but for now their objective is to perfect their process with cobs and then integrate other existing facilities.
“Right now we’re focusing on this first approach and making it work profitably,” says Sturdevant. “Then we’d like to replicate this technology on other existing plants. This integration model makes so much sense because the facility has much of the infrastructure already there; you have the corn suppliers already bringing grain in, and they can bring in the cobs as well.”