Sweetwater Energy has inked a deal with Estonia-based AS Graanul Invest, Europe’s largest wood pellet producer to build a commercial-scale integrated biorefinery.
The biorefinery will produce clean cellulosic sugars and highly pure lignin from 50,000 tons of local hardwood each year. In addition, the plant will allow the two companies to work with corporate partners to create and optimize innovative new products from sugar and lignin.
The plant will be the first to incorporate Sweetwater’s Sunburst pre-treatment technology, which splits biomass into its constituent parts faster and more effectively than any commercial process available today. The result is lower greenhouse gas emissions, lower usage of water and chemicals while for the first time deriving significant value from all components of wood.
The agreement grants Graanul, which owns 11 large-scale wood-pellet production plants in the Baltics an exclusive territorial license to incorporate the Sunburst technology into its existing plants, as well as into future plants throughout the Baltic States.
“Sweetwater is excited to be part of this extraordinary program with Graanul,” says Arunas Chesonis, Chairman and CEO of Sweetwater. “The entrepreneurial talent and experienced resources of their team make them an ideal partner in bringing our breakthrough sustainable technology to the world at commercial scale.”
The fully-funded plant is made possible through an undisclosed investment and collaboration between the two companies by using Sweetwater’s patented technology and Graanul’s existing infrastructure as one of the largest producers of wood pellets in the world.
The patented technology is based on modified, highly reliable twin-screw extrusion systems that operate in many industries, ranging from plastics to aluminum to food processing. Fuels, plastics, and chemicals have traditionally been made from fossil-derived, prehistoric carbon pulled from the ground, eventually ending up in our atmosphere and oceans.
The Sweetwater-Graanul partnership will compete economically with all of those same products, but will do so by using green, sustainable carbon that trees and crops have taken from the atmosphere.