POET extracts value from every kernel through its suite of bioproducts
Once hidden beneath green husks, the potential of the humble corn kernel can be redefined through an ingenious transformation: bioprocessing.
Over 35 years ago, POET scientists and engineers, inspired by nature’s elegance, embarked on a mission to extract every ounce of potential from each kernel of corn. Through countless trials over numerous years — by testing in high-tech research labs and piloting at full-scale facilities — they have discovered the technology and processes necessary to unlock a treasure trove of bioproducts.
This is the innovative tale of how POET’s visionary approach turned waste into wonder and how their sustainable marvels are reshaping the bioeconomy of the future.
At POET, no part of the kernel is wasted. Only the starch goes to produce bioethanol and purified alcohol, while the remaining fiber, protein, oil, and micronutrients are utilized to create a wide array of bioproducts.
Although biofuel is still at the forefront of its product line, POET is much more than just a fuel company. The company has developed a suite of bioproducts that further leverage its production process to provide renewable, plant-based solutions in several product categories — including those that have traditionally relied on petrochemicals.
Fuel-grade bioethanol is a clean-burning, renewable alternative to fossil fuel that is made from plant materials. It boosts octane, lowers greenhouse gas emissions, and, when blended with gasoline, enables petroleum-based fuels to meet emissions and fuel efficiency standards — all while saving consumers money at the pump.
Many Americans might be surprised to know they use biofuel every day; 98% of fuel sold in the U.S. contains up to 10% bioethanol. Today, more stations continue to offer higher biofuel blends like E15 (also labeled as Unleaded 88 at the pump), providing drivers with a lower-cost, lower-carbon option.
The majority of bioethanol in the U.S. is made from corn starch, but it can also be produced from other feedstocks like sugarcane, sorghum, wheat, barley, and potatoes. There are significant benefits to bioethanol. POET believes it is the best, most sustainable, and most economically viable liquid fuel available to meet environmental and human health goals today.
Bioethanol replaces the most expensive and toxic chemicals that are found in today’s fuel supply, which have been proven to cause cancer, asthma, and a number of other health problems. Biofuel also utilizes surplus grain — in fact, U.S. bioethanol producers purchase about 40% of the nation’s annual corn crop; POET alone processes 7%. This critical market creates profitability for farmers, enabling them to invest more readily in their operations and allowing rural communities to thrive for generations to come.
POET’s low-carbon intensity (CI) distiller's corn oil (DCO) is used as a feedstock for biodiesel and renewable diesel. In other words, it's a co-product that makes it possible to produce biofuels as a byproduct of biofuels. Two of POET’s 34 bioprocessing facilities produce a more clarified corn oil product, which is an ideal feedstock for many renewable diesel refineries as it eliminates the pretreatment step.
Dried Distillers Grains
POET's longest-standing co-product division is animal nutrition. Distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) are a nutrient-rich co-product of the bioethanol production process that can be used as a feed ingredient for livestock.
Distillers grains make for quality, valuable animal feed rich in protein, minerals, and fiber. POET’s DDGS lead the industry in quality and consistency, providing a highly palatable source of key nutrients for swine, poultry, and cattle. Additionally, due to POET’s patented BPX process that eliminates the cooking step in bioethanol production, studies show that POET’s feed products are more digestible, reducing methane emissions from livestock.
This next-generation protein ingredient is FSSC 22000 certified as a food-safe product. With a 50-percent protein content, this product is highly digestible and has excellent energy values to deliver nutrients for a variety of applications, including poultry, swine, dairy, aquaculture, and even pet food.
Pellets and Cubes
POET’s pellets and cubes are made up of 100% POET DDGS and boast the same nutritional benefits — but they differ in appearance. Traditional DDGS are pressed into a pellet or cube form for easy handling, reduced waste, and all the quality you can count on from a POET feed product. This form ensures uniform size, decreased shrinkage, and superior handling with better flowability, all while increasing feed efficiency.
Modified and Wet Distillers Grain
Modified and wet distillers grains both feature the same benefits as POET’s dried product but require less energy to produce — lowering the cost and carbon intensity of the feed.
Corn condensed distillers soluble, or syrup, is an economical liquid feed ingredient predominantly used in ruminant diets.
Distillers corn oil is used in animal feed rations to add a high-quality source of energy to the diet.
POET has been capturing and selling CO2 since 1988, supplying a nationwide customer base for applications that include beverage carbonation, food processing, municipal water treatment, fire suppression, and agricultural applications. POET’s high-quality bioCO2 is derived from the bioethanol production process, which means it is 100% renewable. The company is the fastest-growing renewable CO2 distributors in the U.S., with over a dozen different manufacturing facilities across the Midwest. POET's renewable CO2 is sourced at 15 bioprocessing facilities, and its dry ice is produced at two facilities.
POET's high-quality bio dry ice is perfect for food, medical, and e-shipping applications. POET has the capability to produce many forms of dry ice in order to meet customer's specific needs.
POET’s all-natural, bio-based purified alcohol is sustainably produced and held to the highest standards of quality, purity, and reliability. It is a fundamental component in products ranging from food and beverage ingredients to cosmetics and personal care products to cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, and industrial bioethanol uses.
POET’s food-grade alcohol is distilled six times to meet the highest standards for purity, including the FDA’s Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) label standards and the Global Food Safety Initiative’s Safe Quality Food (SQF) Program standards, and it adheres to kosher guidelines.
POET Purified Alcohol is also widely used and effective in a variety of pharmaceutical-grade applications and can replace petroleum-based synthetic ingredients in many current products.
Other Industrial Uses
Asphalt Recycling Agent and Defoamer
In addition to being used in biodiesel production and as a feedstock, corn oil created through POET’s patented BPX process enables it to make a safer, healthier, more cost-effective asphalt recycling agent and defoamer. These are extremely effective bio-based alternatives to their petroleum-based counterparts.
With POET’s suite of bioproducts, the potential of every kernel is harnessed. POET’s pioneering efforts have not only redefined sustainability but have also paved the way for a greener future. It has been a remarkable journey to transform corn kernels into cornerstones of environmental stewardship and innovation.