Poet Accuses Engineering Company of Failure in Quest for Cellulosic Ethanol
by Jonathan Ellis (Argus Leader) Ethanol producer Poet is suing an international engineering company that was hired to create a system to help convert biomass into ethanol, underscoring the challenges of creating inexpensive cellulosic ethanol.
Poet Design & Construction Inc. hired Andritz Inc. of Georgia in 2010 to design a system at Poet’s pioneering ethanol plant in Emmetsburg, Iowa.
Poet’s Emmetsburg plant uses a next-generation system to make ethanol out of stalks, cornhusks and other biomass materials. The $275 million facility opened in 2014 with the goal of producing ethanol from biomass at a scale that was economically feasible.
Andritz, according to the lawsuit, was hired to create a system that pretreated biomass on an economically scalable level so that it could be converted into low-cost sugars used to produce ethanol.
But once installed at the plant, Poet alleges Andritz was incapable of providing a pre-treatment system for the biomass and of operating at a rate to meet commercial scalability, “thereby preventing the plant from producing cellulosic ethanol at a commercially scalable level,” the lawsuit says.
Poet put the company on notice in 2014 that the system was not living up to expectations. Poet claims that Andritz had many opportunities to get the system operational, including design modifications that led to multiple plant shutdowns.
“But despite being afforded over one-and-half years to remedy its defective engineering and design, Andritz was never able to fix its engineering and design of the system,” the lawsuit says.
Poet spent more than $25 million on the system. READ MORE