POET ready to reach new levels now expansion is complete

POET ready to reach new levels now expansion  is complete
Dave Faries

Work expanding the production capacity at POET Biofuels in Laddonia was completed in May. Now, after two months of testing and sorting out issues, the facility will soon be running at full bore.

That means an increase of 10 million gallons of biofuel produced each year, for a total of 80 million gallons. To reach that mark, the company will require an additional 28 million bushels of corn from area farmers.

“We’re still ramping up,” said POET’s Laddonia general manager Steve Murphy. Tallying what that will mean to the local economy depends upon market prices. But, he added, “it’s a pretty big number.”

Shortly after the Laddonia plant opened in 2006, it was producing 50 million gallons of biofuel from 17 million bushels. For the past several years a steady 70 million gallons flowed from the facility.

There is another change on the horizon. Corporate executives plan to drop Biofuels from the company name in favor of Bioproducts.

“That’s to stress that we produce so many other products,” Murphy pointed out. “We make a lot of things people don’t know about.”

Currently the Laddonia plant fills two barges a week with animal feed, shipping from Louisiana — Missouri and New Orleans — to the international market.

The facility also produces food and beverage grade CO2, which is added to soft drinks and used in some processed foods. Dawn Foods in Mexico is a customer, as are companies in the St. Louis area.
Company wide, POET creates such items as crude corn oil, purified alcohol, hand sanitizer and corn-based asphalt rejuvenator.

“It’s the starch in the kernel that makes biofuel,” Murphy explained. “There are a number of co-products.”

The Laddonia plant runs on steam. But the same turbine that heats the boiler generates an excess of electricity that goes to the local grid.

“We are a net exporter of energy,” Murphy said.

With their expanded capacity and growing market for other products, Murphy anticipates big things.
“We’ll be at a level we’ve never been before,” he said.


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