The Ohio State University at Marion

POET Biorefining donation helps keep Buckeyes safer

275 gallons of sanitizer were delivered to the campus’s Maintenance Receiving Building, by POET Marion personnel on July 31st, 2020.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers and production staff at POET worked around the clock to produce an all-natural ethanol-based sanitizer to tackle severe state and local shortages for sanitizer.

Since the beginning of this initiative, sanitizer has been shared with frontline workers across the state, including the education community in Marion, Ohio. POET Biorefining, Marion, Ohio donated 275 five-gallon buckets of hand sanitizer to the Marion campus in July 2020.

Campus administration shared that the donation has been critical in refilling campus hand sanitizing stations that helps keep the entire campus community safer.

According to Poet Plant Manager Aaron Rollins, the donation to the Marion campus was possible because of Poet’s close involvement with the Manufacturing Advisory Team for the new engineering technology degree program at Ohio State Marion.

“A donation to Marion City Schools and the expressed need for sanitizer from the school system led us to ask the Ohio State Marion if they also had a similar need,” explained Rollins.

“I have fielded calls from school districts and church groups around the country seeking sanitizers,” he said. “So, it was obvious there was a significant need for this product at educational facilities.”

“Charles River Labs was initially involved because as we began the process of purifying alcohol at our facility,” Rollins said, “We needed a way to analyze the material for impurities.”

This type of laboratory analysis is done using Gas Chromatography Analyzers, which they did not have in their labs Rollins shared.

“We initially reached out to Charles River Labs to see if they had an additional GC that we could borrow or use. The sanitizer we are donating is made using the World Health Organization formula.

POET made the decision to utilize a few strategic sites to make a best-in-class purified alcohol.

Rollins said, “we did initiate very rapid engineering and design work and began the process of adding additional piping and other capabilities to begin to purify our fuel ethanol.”

“POET-Marion is very unique in that we have 2 distillation systems and therefore we retrofitted our second distillation system to purify alcohol rather than produce fuel ethanol,” he added.

Most industrial and pharmaceutical alcohols are typically lab made using ethyl compounds from carbon-based products like oil and gasoline. Purified alcohol produced at POET is a renewable product made from yellow dent #2 corn, therefore a more sustainable resource to help fill the gap in national demand for alcohol-based sanitizers.

About POET
POET, headquartered in Sioux Falls, SD, is the world’s largest biofuels producer. POET is a leader in biorefining through its efficient, vertically integrated approach to production. Started in 1987, the company today has a network of 28 production facilities across 7 states. At full run rates, POET purchases 5% of US corn and produces 2 billion gallons of ethanol, 10 billion pounds of distillers dried grains, and 600 million pounds of corn oil annually. In 2019, Fast Company recognized POET on its annual list of “Most Innovative Companies” for transportation and FORTUNE recognized POET on its list of companies that are changing the world. For more information, visit