Sweetwater Energy to Convert CO2 to Sugars in Joint Venture with Naturally Scientific
Sweetwater Energy, Inc., a Rochester NY-based renewable sugar producer, has announced a 50/50 joint venture with Naturally Scientific, Inc. to produce sugar from waste carbon dioxide.
The new technology converts carbon dioxide taken directly from the emissions of industries such as ethanol refineries, natural gas power plants and many others, into usable sugars.
The joint venture expands Sweetwater’s sugar-production reach beyond biomass-based, second-generation feedstocks into third-generation feedstocks. Sweetwater’s new ultra-flexible feedstock model opens up multiple new ways of delivering quality sugars to customers for a cost believed much lower than the current market can provide.
“It’s exciting to be able to take a greenhouse gas like carbon dioxide that is being vented into the atmosphere, turn it into sugar, and ultimately into useful products like biofuels and bioplastics,” says Arunas Chesonis, Chairman and CEO of Sweetwater. “The team at Naturally Scientific has developed a truly remarkable process. The more we learned, the more we realized that a joint venture between our companies to expand our feedstock portfolio beyond biomass was going to have a tremendous impact on the industry. The flexibility we now have to address both a customer’s sugar needs and emission issues is extraordinary.”
“We’re thrilled about the potential in this joint venture with Sweetwater,” says Geoff Dixon, CEO of Naturally Scientific. “Their expertise in sugar platform technologies meshed so well with our own aims that this venture is a sweet deal in every sense of the word.”
Sweetwater currently extracts sugars from many types of plant material. Those sugars are in essence a renewable alternative to petroleum because most products built from petroleum—such as plastics, fuels, and many chemicals—can also be built from Sweetwater’s sugars.
Adding the ability to create sugar from carbon dioxide means Sweetwater can supply biomass-based sugar to an ethanol refinery, for example, and then also capture the carbon dioxide that’s a byproduct of the ethanol production to create emission-based sugars, which can be turned into oils, biodiesel, or other products.
“We’re creating a wraparound solution,” says Chesonis. “We’re helping customers stabilize their feedstock price volatility, and helping with their emission issues. It’s not just the technology on hand, but Sweetwater’s modular business model that allows it to happen.”
Sweetwater’s business model was patented in 2012 for the manufacture and deployment of distributed pretreatment units designed for the extraction of sugars from any cellulosic feedstock. This proprietary process allows Sweetwater to provide broad scale diversity for cellulosic ethanol production that takes full advantage of economic and capacity constraints surrounding cellulosic biomass.
Naturally Scientific has spent five years creating its modular, rapid-growth and high-yield bio-manufacturing platform. The company has constructed a demonstration plant in Nottingham, UK, that has been fully operational for two years, producing sugar and vegetable oils from carbon dioxide. The demonstration plant uses full-sized equipment that proves the technology, automated process control systems, yields and unit economics at a commercial scale.