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As others see it: New plant may be the future of ethanol

The ethanol industry took another step forward Tuesday when a new Iowa venture broke ground.

This first commercial-sized cellulosic ethanol plant will focus on using primarily the corn plant minus the corn kernels. The $250 million plant is being built near Emmetsburg in north central Iowa.

The plant called Project Liberty, by co-partners Poet Ethanol Products of Sioux Falls, S.D., and Royal DSM of the Netherlands, is expected to open in 2013. The plant is projected to produce 25 million gallons per year, right next to Poet's corn ethanol plan in Emmetsburg.

This Iowa project is the first of several expected to be developed over the next two years. The development and success of these plants focusing on cellulosic ethanol is creating excitement and could be the next wave of ethanol development in rural America, including west central Minnesota.

Cellulosic ethanol is not limited to just the corn plant either. Researchers are working on woody, inedible parts of food plants, non-food plants, like switch grass, or wood fiber.

This Iowa-based plant will play a role in helping launch the next-generation of ethanol, which is a positive step for west central Minnesota and rural America.