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Rochester startup Sweetwater Energy Inc. has landed its second multimillion contract in the past two weeks.
The cellulosic sugar manufacturer has inked a 15-year commercial agreement with Front Range Energy, a Colorado-based firm, to generate cellulosic ethanol at Front Range’s current corn-ethanol facility.
Last Friday, the Rochester Business Journal first reported Sweetwater’s first deal—a 16-year contract with Ace Ethanol LLC of Stanley, Wis. Both agreements have a potential value in excess of $100 million, company officials said.
Under the agreements, Sweetwater will use its patented, decentralized process to convert locally available cellulosic, non-food biomass, such as crop residues, energy crops, and woody biomass into highly fermentable sugar, which Ace and Front Range will ferment into ethanol. Sweetwater plans to build cellulosic facilities at both sites.
“This process is a major breakthrough for the future of cellulosic ethanol,” said Jack Baron, Sweetwater president and chief operating officer, in a statement. “The patent protects the first technology to support a viable economic model for scaling the conversion of cellulosic biomass into highly fermentable sugar and subsequently, ethanol. It will mean a great deal to the U.S. corn ethanol industry, and to the profitable future of biofuel production worldwide.”
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