9.16.2014 | printed in the Summer 2014 issue of VITAL magazine
With a mixture of exceptional vision and tremendous risk, 500 years ago an exploration mission led to the discovery of the new world, almost 50 years ago a man walked on the moon and today a cellulosic ethanol plant will change the future of fuel as we know it. Many of the world-changing events and inventions so famed in our history have transpired from an inspiring vision – combined with the guts to take a risk.
John F. Kennedy may have said it best when announcing his decision to put a man on the moon. “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”
They are hard. And they were risky.
This defines very clearly our choice to move forward with Project LIBERTY and produce cellulosic ethanol. It was not perceived to be easy when we began. Many called it a fantasy fuel and some still do. I’ll be the first to admit that when we started researching this, it was a long shot at best. And the fourteen years we’ve invested in turning biomass into fuel hasn’t been easy. But I can assure you, those years weren’t wasted. We encountered road block after road block and surpassed each and every one of them. Dozens of mistakes were made and better production methods were born. Equipment was installed, modified and occasionally scrapped completely, leading to new and better technology in every circumstance.
Through each hurdle, something told me that we had to do it. I really felt strongly in my heart that what we were doing was right regardless of the cost and the risk. I always had faith that the technology would develop and we’d find the right process solutions, the right microorganisms and the right partners. And here we are, opening the facility that can change the way the world produces liquid transportation fuel.
We know there will be some challenges starting up the facility because the path we chose was hard. We know getting from where we’ve been to where we’re going isn’t going to be easy. But, it’s going to be worth it. As in the past, we’ll knock down the road blocks one-at-a-time. We’ll set sail and we’ll defy gravity in our own way. And Project LIBERTY will go down in history as a hard and risky endeavor that changed the world.
Other Stories in this collection:
In Sight: Hard and Risky
by Jeff Broin, Executive Chairman and Founder of POET