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Sweetwater Energy and Ace Ethanol to begin commercial production of cellulosic ethanol; potential contract value of $100M

Flow chart of a portion of Sweetwater’s distributed hydrolysis process to produce C5 and C6 sugar streams from biomass. Source: Sweetwater patent application. Click to enlarge.

Sweetwater Energy, Inc., a Rochester NY-based cellulosic sugar producer (earlier post), announced a long-term commercial agreement with Ace Ethanol, a Stanley, WI-based corn ethanol production facility, to generate cellulosic ethanol at Ace’s plant for up to 16 years.

Sweetwater’s patented, decentralized hydrolysis process will convert locally available cellulosic, non-food biomass, such as crop residues, energy crops, and woody biomass into highly fermentable sugar, which Ace will ferment into ethanol. The entire contract has a total potential value in excess of $100 million, and requires a minimal capital outlay by Ace Ethanol while stabilizing Ace’s feedstock cost over the life of the agreement.

Sweetwater Energy’s technology generates separate and concentrated individual streams of C and C6 sugars, which can be sold to biorefineries, which use it to produce biofuels, biochemicals, and bioplastics.

This technology allows economics previously not achievable on the small scale, allowing Sweetwater to utilize biomass within just a few miles of a processor and therefore reducing transportation and storage expenses.

The Sweetwater-Ace agreement entails Sweetwater placing one of its cellulosic facilities adjacent to the Ace Ethanol site, and delivering enough refined monomeric sugar for Ace to produce up to 3.6 million gallons of ethanol per year during the initial phase of the relationship. The economics afforded by Sweetwater’s cellulosic sugar and the patented hub-and-spoke distributed model will ultimately determine the pace and volume with which Ace’s corn ethanol facility will migrate to Sweetwater’s cellulosic feedstocks.

Ace Ethanol has been bench testing Sweetwater’s cellulosic material for some time and we’re confident that this project will be commercially profitable. With Sweetwater, we’ll move from 100% corn to a combination of corn starch and 7% cellulosic sugar as our feedstocks.

—Neal Kemmet, President of Ace Ethanol


  • US Patent Application Nº 20100144001: Ensiling Biomass For Biofuels Production And Multiple Phase Apparatus For Hydrolyzation Of Ensiled Biomass

  • DOE background presentation on cellulosic sugars (July 2012)



We live in interesting energy times. An "all of the above" answer is evolving.

PHEVs can economically cover every 'first twenty' urban miles and implement a viable recharging infrastructure.

ICE is suddenly able to consistently add any remaining range at 40+ mpg - and not necessarily need oil to run.

Meanwhile, the big oil backup, our hydrogen initiative, seems to remain less than five years away(like the past thirty years), but without the usual massive taxpayer research "grants".

With the next harem updates and doubling gas prices, those first twenty electric miles may make do and perhaps even find a few paralleled batteries in trunks.


40 mpg HEVs and synthetic fuels could help eliminate OPEC oil imports to the U.S. in this decade. All the better to avoid more oil wars.

Henry Gibson

Compressed natural gas(or methane)is a good enough fuel for most household transportation needs. ..HG..

Henry Gibson

Ethanol or cellulose are still foods. ..HG..


There is no getting something for nothing, despite the half assed wishes of Green Loons. Removing even the crop residues will bleach the farmland of all nutrients, making the land unfruitful and an organic desert.

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