POET Research Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of POET LLC, one of the world’s largest ethanol producers, and Agrivida, Inc., a developer of biotechnology platforms for feedstock and feedstock processing, announce the signing of a technology collaboration joint development agreement in the field of cellulosic ethanol. Under the terms of the four-year agreement POET and Agrivida will develop Agrivida’s technology platforms with the goal of significantly reducing the capital and operating costs of commercial cellulosic ethanol production facilities.
POET and Agrivida will collaborate to develop and test Agrivida’s engineered corn stover feedstock and feedstock processing technology for integration with POET’s existing commercial cellulosic technology. Agrivida is developing traits engineered to improve the pretreatment of corn stover and make it easier to break down cellulose while reducing the cost of enzymatic application.
Agrivida will optimize its proprietary corn stover feedstock to provide POET with substantial operating cost savings. POET will evaluate and test Agrivida’s proprietary, low-severity feedstock processing technology, which is targeted to provide significant capital and operating cost savings at commercial facilities.
"POET is committed to working with new and innovative technologies that will improve the cost and value of cellulosic ethanol production,” said Dr. Wade Robey, POET Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer. “If successful, Agrivida’s novel approach to increase the functionality and value delivery of corn stover will work well with other technologies being developed by POET.”
Mark Wong, Agrivida CEO said: “We are excited to be working with POET to improve the economics of advanced biofuels production. POET has one of the most advanced commercial cellulosic programs in the world with strong research, development and commercial deployment capabilities. POET will be a great partner as Agrivida transitions its technology from research and development to a commercialization phase.”
As one of the world’s largest producers of corn ethanol, POET has been actively developing cellulosic bio-ethanol for more than a decade. In November, 2008, the company started operating a cellulosic bio-ethanol pilot plant at its research center in Scotland, South Dakota. For the past five years, POET has been working with farmers to bale, transport and store corn crop residue—the cobs, leaves, husks and some stalk left in the field after the grain harvest. Cellulosic bio-ethanol from corn crop residue represents a large opportunity. If the technology is deployed at POET’s network of 27 existing corn ethanol plants, it could produce up to one billion gallons of cellulosic bio-ethanol per year. Recently, POET entered into a Joint Venture with Royal DSM to bring Project Liberty, POET’s first planned cellulosic facility, into commercial reality. The facility is slated to begin operations near the end of 2013.
Over the past nine years, Agrivida has been actively developing its protein-engineering expertise to produce high-performance feedstocks for bio-based fuels, chemicals and animal feed. Agrivida has developed its disruptive technology to produce ultra-low cost fermentable sugars from biomass at high conversion efficiencies. Crops under development include corn (for stover), sorghum and switch grass.
In an analysis of the Renewable Fuel Standard, the U.S. EPA projected 7.8 billion gallons of cellulosic bio-ethanol coming from corn crop residue by 2022. Beyond that, the U.S. Departments of Energy and Agriculture have estimated that more than one billion tons of biomass is available in America that could produce enough cellulosic bio-ethanol to replace a third of the country’s gasoline use. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that in the United States as many as 350-400 new bio-refineries will have to be constructed by 2022 to meet the volume requirement of 16 billion gallons/year of cellulosic bio-ethanol under the Renewable Fuel Standard.