Sustainable aviation fuel and cellulose alcohol production from feedstock


United StatesSweetwater Energy and Gevo have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) regarding the use of sustainably sourced agricultural residues and woody biomass as a feedstock for producing cellulosic alcohols and energy-dense renewable liquid hydrocarbons.

Sweetwater intends to build, own, and operate a facility adjacent to Gevo’s existing plant in Luverne, Minnesota, to produce high-value, plant-based products from cellulose and lignin while supplying Gevo with up to 30,000 tons of biomass-derived cellulosic sugars annually, with room for growth. Sunburst, Sweetwater’s proprietary lignocellulosic biomass deconstruction technology, will be used in the new facility Products made from cellulose and lignin are expected to be used in packaging and resins, as well as other industries that use petroleum-based products to increase performance and sustainability while reducing their environmental impact. For the anticipated production of cellulosic alcohol and renewable hydrocarbons, Gevo plans on utilizing the offtake of the low-cost, cellulosic sugars produced by Sweetwater.

Cellulosic sugars were first converted by Gevo into sustainable aviation fuel that meets the ASTM D7566 specification and can thus be used on commercial flights. When cost-effective sugar sources meet sustainability goals, the company expects to be able to commercialize effectively. It’s also possible for Gevo to use its Luverne plant, which has an expected higher profit margin, to produce higher-value products that are in demand in the marketplace.

There is an exciting model for Gevo in the potential partnership with Sweetwater to supply cellulosic sugars. For example, Gevo’s offtake model could be replicated globally in multiple locations, filling a market void while allowing the company to concentrate on its technology for the production of alcohols and hydrocarbon fuel. Gevo’s long-term goals include establishing new collaborations for the conversion of cellulosic biomass.

Using Sweetwater’s Sunburst technology, which can be used to pretreat a wide variety of biomass, Sweetwater plans to expand the feedstock used in the Luverne plant to include qualified wood products and agricultural waste. Work is expected to begin on the Sweetwater facility next to Luverne in Q3 of 2022.