Pacific Ethanol, Sweetwater Energy announce cellulosic sugar deal

By Sweetwater Energy Inc. | December 18, 2013

Sweetwater Energy Inc., a Rochester, N.Y.-based cellulosic sugar producer, and Pacific Ethanol Inc. the leading marketer and producer of low-carbon renewable fuels in the Western United States, announced an agreement to supply customized industrial sugars for the production of cellulosic ethanol. The agreement supports the construction of a cellulosic biorefinery at the Pacific Ethanol Stockton facility capable of producing up to 3.6 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol annually, contingent upon Sweetwater Energy obtaining the necessary financing and permits.

Sweetwater Energy will use its patented, decentralized process to convert locally available cellulosic material, such as crop residues, energy crops, and wood waste into a sugar solution, which Pacific Ethanol will ferment into cellulosic ethanol at its Stockton, Calif., refinery.

Neil Koehler, CEO of Pacific Ethanol, stated, "An important part of our growth strategy is to take advantage of the flexibility of our plant infrastructure to process diverse feedstocks such as sugar, corn, sorghum, and now sugars produced from cellulosic material. The Sweetwater platform moves us towards producing next-generation renewable fuels while providing additional flexibility in sourcing, reducing feedstock costs and enhancing plant operating margins."

"We are very pleased to work with Pacific Ethanol on this project," says Arunas Chesonis, chairman and CEO of Sweetwater Energy. "We are going to start by supplying up to 6 percent of Pacific Ethanol Stockton's feedstock requirements and, as our partnership grows we will evaluate increasing the amount."