POET opens doors to teachers

Nothing boosts understanding like seeing things for yourself, and that’s what the Feed the World workshop teachers were able to do! Ty Oliver, POET plant engineer, spoke with teachers at the Feed the World workshop, then led a tour through the Fostoria plant. The tour allowed teachers to see the stages of production and understand more about the use of corn and the science behind the process.

Teachers appreciated the close-up look, and they were especially interested in the lack of waste, with even the water being recycled. The POET plant doesn’t just produce ethanol. As a part of the production process, they also extract corn oil, used in the biodiesel market and as an energy supplement for animals; CO2 which is sold to soft drink bottlers; and dried distillers grains used in animal feed.

Jennifer Scheidler of Sycamore High School said, “The field trip to POET was an incredible experience. Besides learning about how they scale up the processes we learned about in the workshop and learning loads of info about ethanol in general, the pride and general positivity about the company from the people we met was kind of contagious. The thing that will really stick with me, though, is their dedication to innovation—a topic I’m very interested in bringing into my classes in an intentional way. There were posters everywhere on the topic and our presenter mentioned that they were regularly rolling out 5-6 new ways of doing things EVERY month!!! I love the mindset that they promote. I also admire their commitment to creating zero waste and a more sustainable future.”

POET Fostoria, a bio-processing facility, is celebrating its ten year anniversary, having been in production since 2008. It is one of three in Ohio, with others in Leipsic and Marion. Operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, it produces roughly 80 millions gallons of ethanol yearly. The ethanol is transported by truck to blending facilities around the state where it is mixed with gasoline.

Seeing the production of ethanol on a large scale was especially interesting to teachers, since they’d been able to produce ethanol in the lab during the workshop!