Gevo, Inc. signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Sweetwater Energy, Inc., regarding the use of sustainably sourced agricultural residues and woody biomass as a feedstock for producing cellulosic alcohols and energy-dense renewable liquid hydrocarbons.
The MoU outlines Sweetwater’s plans to build, own, and operate a facility to produce high-value, plant-based products from cellulose and lignin that will be adjacent to Gevo’s existing plant in Luverne, Minnesota, and will supply us with up to 30,000 tons of biomass-derived cellulosic sugars annually, with opportunities for expansion.
Sweetwater would use the facility to employ its proprietary Sunburst technology to deconstruct lignocellulosic biomass. The company uses cellulose and lignin to creat an anticipated plant-based product portfolio that targets applications in packaging and resins, as well as exploring other pathways to increase performance and sustainability while displacing petroleum-based products.
Sweetwater’s Sunburst technology is flexible, so it can pretreat many types of biomass. It has been proven in operation at commercial scale at the Sweetwoods Project in Imavere, Estonia. Sweetwater plans to increase the types of feedstock used in the Luverne plant to include qualified wood products and agricultural residues.
Gevo plans to use the offtake of the low-cost, cellulosic sugars co-produced by Sweetwater for the anticipated production of cellulosic alcohols and renewable hydrocarbons. Gevo was the first company to demonstrate the conversion of cellulosic sugars to make sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) that meets the ASTM D7566 specification, allowing it to be used for commercial flights.
In keeping with its sustainability practices, Gevo expects that this SAF can be commercialized effectively when cost-effective sources of these sugars meet sustainability goals. Cellulosic D3 RINs are high value and create an opportunity for Gevo to leverage its Luverne plant with anticipated better returns to make higher value products that are in demand in the marketplace.
The potential partnership with Sweetwater to supply cellulosic sugars provides an exciting model for Gevo, particularly because it could be replicated globally in multiple locations to fill a gap in the marketplace, and it could further expand the reach of Gevo’s systems approach to sustainability, while allowing the company to stay focused on its technology for the production of alcohols and hydrocarbon fuels. Developing new partnerships for the conversion of cellulosic biomass is expected to continue to be a part of Gevo’s strategic plan.
Construction of the Sweetwater facility adjacent to Gevo’s Luverne facility is anticipated to begin in Q3 2022.
Gevo’s mission is to transform renewable energy and carbon into energy-dense liquid hydrocarbons. These liquid hydrocarbons can be used for drop-in transportation fuels such as gasoline, jet fuel and diesel fuel, that when burned have potential to yield net-zero greenhouse gas emissions when measured across the full life cycle of the products. Gevo uses low-carbon renewable resource-based carbohydrates as raw materials, and is in an advanced state of developing renewable electricity and renewable natural gas for use in production processes, resulting in low-carbon fuels with substantially reduced carbon intensity (the level of greenhouse gas emissions compared to standard petroleum fossil-based fuels across their life cycle). Gevo also plans to take advantage of decarbonization via geological sequestration in the future. Gevo’s products perform as well or better than traditional fossil-based fuels in infrastructure and engines, but with substantially reduced greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to addressing the problems of fuels, Gevo’s technology also enables certain plastics, such as polyester, to be made with more sustainable ingredients. Gevo’s ability to penetrate the growing low-carbon fuels market depends on the price of oil and the value of abating carbon emissions that would otherwise increase greenhouse gas emissions.
Gevo believes that its proven, patented technology enabling the use of a variety of low-carbon sustainable feedstocks to produce price-competitive low-carbon products such as gasoline components, jet fuel and diesel fuel yields the potential to generate project and corporate returns that justify the build- out of a multi-billion-dollar business.
Gevo believes that the Argonne National Laboratory GREET model is the best available standard of scientific-based measurement for life cycle inventory or LCI.
About Sweetwater Energy, Inc.
Sweetwater Energy uses a unique technology for producing low-cost nanofibrillated cellulose, microcrystalline cellulose, cellulosic sugars, and clean lignin from non-food plant materials to help meet the modern world’s increasing bioenergy and biochemical demands. The company began in 2009 as a spinout from the Rochester Institute of Technology with funding from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. The initial goal was to develop a distributed method of creating ethanol on-site on farmland, but as the technology developed and its capabilities expanded, the company’s vision also grew. In early 2020, the first commercial Sunburst system was installed at the Sweetwoods Project in Imavere, Estonia, a €43.2 million collaboration of nine European companies deriving high-value products from wood via the Sunburst system.
Learn more at Sweetwater’s website: https://www.sweetwater.us/
Certain statements in this press release may constitute “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements relate to a variety of matters, without limitation, including Sweetwater Energy, Inc. and its technology, engineering and constructing a facility in Luverne, Minnesota, the production of cellulosic sugars and high-value products derived from forestry and agricultural wastes, the production of alcohols and advanced renewable fuels including SAF, the attributes of Gevo’s products, and other statements that are not purely statements of historical fact. These forward-looking statements are made on the basis of the current beliefs, expectations and assumptions of the management of Gevo and are subject to significant risks and uncertainty. Investors are cautioned not to place undue reliance on any such forward-looking statements. All such forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made, and Gevo undertakes no obligation to update or revise these statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. Although Gevo believes that the expectations reflected in these forward-looking statements are reasonable, these statements involve many risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ materially from what may be expressed or implied in these forward-looking statements. For a further discussion of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ from those expressed in these forward-looking statements, as well as risks relating to the business of Gevo in general, see the risk disclosures in the Annual Report on Form 10-K of Gevo for the year ended December 31, 2020, and in subsequent reports on Forms 10-Q and 8-K and other filings made with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission by Gevo.