The EPA has proposed cutting total renewables production by 16 percent this year, but cellulosic biofuel got a 21 percent boost in the proposal.
In Emmetsburg in northwest Iowa, the Project Liberty plant is on track to begin producing cellulosic ethanol this year, according to parent company Poet-DSM Advanced Biofuels.
One primary biomass to be turned into biofuel at the plant is corn stover, which is left over on the field after harvest.
Annually, Project Liberty will take about 25 percent of the residue left on a given acre, according to Poet-DSM business development manager Kevin Potas. Taking too much residue off of farmland can cause problems like soil erosion. Potas says that's a sensitivity Poet-DSM is well aware of.
"We've spent six years studying what really is the right amount of biomass to take off of the field. And what are the implications of what you do take off. So we feel comfortable where we're at. Probably conservative, which is a good place to be. But thus far we've seen no negative impacts of the content of the soil and certainly that's an important factor considering we're right in the heart of the corn belt,” says Potas.