Sweetwater Energy, Inc., is pleased to announce it has signed a Letter of Intent with Vertoro, B.V. for an offtake agreement for second-generation, cellulosic ethanol, and clean lignin. The partnership will use sustainably sourced agricultural and woody biomass as feedstocks for producing advanced marine fuels for use in the world’s shipping fleets.

As outlined in the LOI, Sweetwater will build, own and operate a facility in the upper Midwest that will use Sweetwater’s breakthrough Sunburst™ technology to extract highly pure sugar and lignin from both agricultural residue and woody biomass, and will ultimately ferment the sugar into approximately 18 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol.

Vertoro will use both the ethanol and lignin from Sweetwater to produce a renewable marine fuel using its proprietary Goldilocks® process. Much like fossil oil, Goldilocks® can be used as a platform for fuel, chemical and material applications. Just last year, Maersk Growth, the corporate venturing arm of the world’s second largest container shipping company, invested in Vertoro with the aim of developing renewable marine fuel from projects exactly like this.

“This partnership with Vertoro is especially exciting because it opens the door to the tremendous opportunity of marine fuels,” says Arunas Chesonis, Chairman and CEO of Sweetwater. “While automobile and aviation fuels tend to be top of mind when thinking about creating a sustainable infrastructure, marine fuels are just as much in need of a green solution, and we now have a practical solution toward making that happen.”

“Sweetwater is the perfect resource partner for our needs,” says Michael Boot, Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder of Vertoro. “Their technology supplies us with both fundamental components we need at a price that allows us to make renewable marine fuels a reality in today’s marketplace.”

Sweetwater’s Sunburst technology is designed with the flexibility to pretreat many types of biomass and has been proven in operation at commercial scale at the Sweetwoods Project in Imavere, Estonia. The Sweetwoods project is a Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU)-funded venture that uses sustainable hardwood to demonstrate how Sunburst’s breakthrough pretreatment technology can provide high-quality lignin and wood sugars at an industrial scale. In February, Sweetwater received final acceptance of the commercial-scale Sunburst unit, proving that Sunburst met or exceeded all criteria—including energy usage, throughput, and quality of product.