Viaspace eyes overseas pellet opportunities

By Anna Austin | July 14, 2011

California-based Viaspace Inc. has reported that SGS North America Inc.’s Mineral Service Division has completed testing of its Giant King Grass pellets. Results indicate that the pellets, which were 7 millimeters (0.27 inches) in diameter with lengths between 17 and 45 millimeters, have a gross calorific value of 7,724 Btu per dry pound, or 10 gigajoules per dry kilogram. 

Viaspace CEO Carl Kukkonen is optimistic about the test results and said the company is currently in negotiations for some pellet supply contracts. “We’re working with a pellet equipment manufacturer to buy equipment to set up a mill at our property in China,” he said.

Viaspace currently has a 280-acre nursery/test plantation of GKG in China.

Kukkonen said that while ag pellets such as GKG pellets generally have slightly lower energy content and produce more ash than wood pellets, there will be a need eventually for a wood pellet substitute because of growing worldly demands and the slower growth rate of trees. “Giant King Grass can be planted and harvested in the first four to six months, whereas a tree, if you’re looking at sustainable growth, can take four to 20 years,” he said.

Viaspace is exploring its global pellet supply opportunities, Kukkonen said, and has a memorandum of understanding with California-based General Biofuels Inc. to develop a GKG pellet project in the Dominican Republic. “We’d grow GKG and pelletize it using a co-located model, and then bulk ship the pellets from a port in the Dominican to customers in Europe,” he said.

If the company can soon close contract negotiations with General Biofuels, which is also developing separate wood pellet projects in Georgia and Canada, Kukkonen said he estimates that initial production of the GKG pellets could begin by the end of 2012. He added that the shipping cost from the Dominican Republic to Europe is about $32 per metric ton of pellets, which is close to the cost of shipping from other countries such as the Philippines and Thailand.

While Viaspace has a focus on the aforementioned countries to produce pellets for the Asian and European pellet markets, the company also plans to begin testing the growth of GKG and exploring opportunities in the U.S., Kukkonen said.




7 Responses

  1. john



    If you look up the european standards for biomass properties I believe this Giant King Grass does meet all the requirements!

  2. john



    Giant king grass can be grown on land that is not dedicated to food crops,therefore a country can grow Giant King Grass on the least desirable land, harvest it multiple times a year,while at the same time creating an economically and sociological enviroment for it's people who harvest it a better livelyhood, while at the same time producing a much needed energy source.And since it can be harvested several times a year it is very cost effiecent not only localy but also when it is shipped by cargo in large quanities to this to a feedstock that can only be harvested once a year and it is obvious that it is a very effecient and sustainable feedstock.

  3. jeff



    Viaspace (VSPC) is a stock you can pick up for less than 2 cents per share....If there is a pellet interest globally, one could make a good bit of money.

  4. Richard



    Sounds line this GKG bimoass is real alternative to coal. I understand it has higher production volume per acre when compared to micanthus grass.

  5. Joe



    Problem is that it has very high ash and mineral content and won't meet current European pellet specs.

  6. Roman



    The high biomass yield and rapid growth of this crop appear only when gets more than 800 mm of rainfall annually. Secondly, Joe is right.

  7. Jesse Sewell



    I find it hard to believe you can profitable grow a crop as a primary source for Biomass and Biomass alone. It is vastly more feasible to derive feedstock from harvest residues such as palm oil, sugar cane, rubber trees, timber, corn husks, sawdust, etc. The economics simply do not favor dedicating land and resources to grow feedstock strictly for Biomass. However residues make it financially viable in almost every case.


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