US ethanol producer Poet is suing international engineering company Andritz for failing to deliver a functioning pre-treatment system for Poet’s Emmetsburg, Iowa, cellulosic ethanol plant.

Poet Design & Construction Inc hired Andritz in 2010 to design a system to pre-treat the corn stalk and husk biomass at the plant on an economically scalable level for the production of ethanol, Argus Media wrote on 28 April.

However, Poet alleged that the Austrian-headquartered group was “incapable” of providing the pre-treatment system and of operating it at a rate to meet commercial scalability, which the lawsuit claims prevented the plant “from producing cellulosic ethanol at a commercially scalable level”.

According to the lawsuit, Poet put Andritz on notice in 2014 and claimed that it gave the engineering firm several opportunities to fix the system, including design modifications that required plant shutdowns.

“But despite being afforded over one-and-half years to remedy its defective engineering and design, Andritz was never able to fix its … system,” the lawsuit read.

According to Argus, Poet has spent more than US$25M on the pre-treatment system.

The US$275M Emmetsburg plant opened in 2014, aiming to utilise previously unusable parts of the corn plant to produce cellulosic ethanol.