May 22, 2022

Ethanol producer turns greenhouse gas into a gain

PORTLAND, Ind. — POET Bioprocessing has found a way to take a maligned greenhouse gas and recycle it into a usable product.

The process to turn plant-based carbon dioxide into a product that has a wide range of everyday uses, from adding carbonation to drinks to keeping foods frozen and treating municipal drinking water, is the latest sustainability effort of POET Bioprocessing.

“They made the decision to add this technology on top of the technology for bioethanol at Portland and we completed construction in January. This allows us to capture renewable CO2 at our facility,” said Adam Homan, general manager of POET Bioprocessing at Portland.

The CO2 capture process takes place during the production of ethanol and dried distiller grains.

“Carbon dioxide is a natural byproduct of the ethanol process. In our fermentation process, we ferment the corn slurry into beer. That process gives off carbon dioxide,” Homan said.

POET researchers and engineers came up with a process to capture that plant-based CO2.

“We capture it, then we liquefy it, store it and transport as liquid CO2,” Homan said.

Homan said the list of customers for the additional ethanol byproduct spans the country and includes beverage carbonation, food processing, municipal water treatment and fire suppression.

For Homan, one of the exciting parts of the process is gaining another natural, plant-based product from the some 30 billion bushels of corn the plant processes into ethanol each year. POET Portland produces around 90 million gallons of ethanol every year.

“It is renewable CO2. It is a natural product of our bioethanol production process. Corn uses CO2 to grow. We bring the corn crop in. We process that and capture the CO2. That makes it renewable and plant based. The ability to get another piece, another product, out of that kernel of corn and to be able to use the entire kernel of corn and capture that carbon, while at the same time improving the environment, is very exciting,” Homan said.

Jeannine Otto

Jeannine Otto

Field Editor