POET to buy methane from local S.D. landfill

By Kris Bevill | April 08, 2008
Web exclusive posted April 14, 2008 at 12:40 p.m. CST

POET, the world's largest ethanol producer, has signed an agreement with the city of Sioux Falls, S.D., to purchase methane from the local landfill as an energy source for its biorefining facility in Chancellor, S.D.

Design and permitting processes need to be completed before constructing a 10-mile low pressure pipeline to transport methane from the landfill to the plant. Nathan Schock, POET's director of public relations, said the company anticipates pipeline construction to begin by the third quarter of 2008, with completion of the pipeline slated for mid-2009. The city of Sioux Falls will pay $4.3 million for the pipeline project.

Methane generated from the landfill will initially displace 10 percent of the ethanol plant's natural gas usage, according to POET. That figure is projected to increase to 30 percent in 2025 as more methane is generated. POET has agreed to pay the city $4 for every Million British Thermal Units of methane sent to the plant.

According to Schock, POET won't need to invest in the project beyond the cost of the methane. "[Our] cost will be contained in the construction of the boiler, which will be used to burn both methane and wood waste," he said. The solid waste fuel boiler currently being constructed at the facility will be finished later this year. Sioux Falls, S.D.-based Mueller Pallets LLC will supply the estimated 150 to 350 tons of wood chips that are needed daily.

The combination of methane and wood waste will replace at least 70 percent of the plant's natural gas usage initially and will increase to at least 90 percent by 2025.

The POET biorefining facility in Chancellor began operating in 2003. The facility produced 51 million gallons of ethanol and 160,000 tons of distillers grains last year. Expansion work to increase the plant's capacity to 100 MMgy was completed in March, 2008.

POET operates 22 production facilities in the United States; five more are under construction or are in development. The company produces more than 1.25 billion gallons of ethanol annually.