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NPR’s Journeys of Discovery Visits Missouri Northeast – Episode 4: POET Bioprocessing in Macon

Missouri Northeast is a great place for companies that are looking to grow, make, move, or connect. The region is so unique and innovative that it piqued the interest of award-winning NPR podcast host Tom Wilmer. He recently visited Missouri Northeast to see for himself what the region has to offer.

In the fourth episode of an eleven-part series, Tom visits with Scott Tuttle, General Manager at POET Bioprocessing, an energy solutions company that runs a biofuel plant in Macon, Missouri.

Tuttle shares insights about the process of turning corn into biofuels and how POET is on the road to becoming a carbon neutral operation while mitigating America’s dependence of fossil fuels.

Tom Wilmer, Journeys of Discovery Podcast Host:

“Talk to us briefly about the process of making ethanol.”

Scott Tuttle, General Manager POET Bioethanol Plant:

“We buy somewhere around 17 million bushels of corn a year at this plant, and we grind it into a flour. We blend that flour with water for a slurry. We use yeast and enzymes, and introduce those to get the fermentation process started. We have 11, 275,000-gallon fermenters, and it will be in there for about 80 hours, and at the end of that process of fermentation the yeast will convert the glucose into alcohol. Then we run the remaining product through a distillation process where we separate the alcohol from our water and our feed. Then we refine that down into our products.”

Tom Wilmer, Journeys of Discovery Podcast Host:

Looking forward, what is the vision for the next 5-10 years growth wise?

Scott Tuttle, General Manager POET Bioethanol Plant:

Growth wise, we are heavily invested in trying to advance biofuels, from numerous sources. We think that agriculture has a huge role to play in the future, because one, you can be clean, and we are working with farmers to help them expand their practices to make them cleaner and emit less Co2, and it is renewable.

Tom Wilmer, Journeys of Discovery Podcast Host:

“So, you are hopeful that you could be a net zero carbon emitter in the near-term?”

Scott Tuttle, General Manager POET Bioethanol Plant:

“Oh, there’s no question. We as an industry can reach that with almost all existing technologies. The things we would need to get there are not futuristic, they’re current things that are available: biomass for gas production as a potential replacement for natural gas, wind energy, solar energy, which we can produce in Missouri, better farm practices, farm equipment to clean fuels…”

Check out the full conversation on the Journeys of Discovery podcast here, and stay tuned for more coverage of Tom’s visit to Missouri Northeast.

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