U.S. biotech company Sweetwater Energy and Estonian wood pellet producer Graanul Invest are about to set up a wood fractionation plant able to process 50,000 tons of locally cut timber into different sugars and high purity lignin.
Plans are to team up with international industrial partners to develop from the sugars and lignin new innovative products for the manufacture of biomaterials, Graanul Invest said in a press release.
The project is significant for the whole international biomaterials market in that the Graanul Invest plant will a global first to use Sweetwater's Sunburst pre-processing technology which fractionates biomass into components faster and more efficiently than any other technology available on the market. The result will be lower emissions of greenhouse gases, less water and chemicals used per ton of wood processed, and making use of almost the entire wood mass for the production of high value-added components.
The agreement concluded between the parties gives Graanul Invest, which owns 11 major wood pellet plants in the Baltic countries, exclusive rights to use the Sunburst fractionating technology at its existing and future plants in the Baltic countries.
"In the production of wood pellets, Graanul has always put a lot of emphasis on innovation, and cooperation with Sweetwater is the next level in investment in innovation in adding value to wood," Graanul Ilvest CEO Raul Kirjanen said.
The press release pointed out that where most fuels, plastics and chemicals have been traditionally made from fossil resources and they hence have a big ecological footprint, the new Sweetwater-Graanul partnership will compete with all these products using sustainable carbon compounds as raw material. In addition, the sugars and lignin thus produced will be tested for the production of novel food products, amino acids and paper products, as well as for use as active carbon in the purification of water and gas.
Editor: Dario Cavegn