Sweetwater’s director of commercialization, Sharon Samjitsingh, and Sweetwater’s three demonstration plant operators, Rod Smithback, Tim Bockus, and Taylor Martin, have begun the commissioning of Sweetwater’s breakthrough pretreatment technology, Sunburst, to be ready for its crucial commercial-scale 24-hour acceptance test.

The commercial-scale Sunburst pretreatment system is running at Sweetwoods, a €43.2 million Estonian project that is the result of nine companies from six EU-member states, which won a €20.96 million Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU) grant to create new industrial value chains using sustainable hardwood as a resource. The Sweetwoods plant uses sustainable hardwood to demonstrate how Sunburst, in combination with innovative enzymatic solutions, can provide high-quality lignin and wood sugars at an industrial scale.

The Sweetwater team’s efforts led to a breakthrough moment when, on November 4, Sunburst’s performance exceeded anticipated throughput by nearly 10 percent. More work is still to be done at Sweetwoods, with the next crucial step being the operation of the Sunburst™ system running non-stop for 24 continuous hours, which we expect to achieve when the Sweetwater team returns to Estonia in the first quarter of 2021.