SucreSource, GS Caltex partner on Korean cellulose-to-sugar plant

By Bryan Sims | February 16, 2012

Irvine, Calif.-based cellulosic biorefining firm BlueFire Renewables Inc. together with its wholly owned subsidiary SucreSource LLC have signed agreements with GS Caltex, a Korean petrochemical refining company, to build a cellulose-to-sugar production facility in Korea.

According to a statement by BlueFire Renewables, SucreSource and GS Caltex have already begun work on the project. A specific timeframe as to when exactly the project would be completed wasn’t disclosed but, when it becomes fully operational, it will convert 2 tons per day of construction and demolition debris into cellulosic sugar, which can then be converted into high-value chemicals using GS Caltex’s proprietary technology.

The facility will be owned and operated by GS Caltex. SucreSource is providing the process design package, equipment procurement and technical and engineering support. Once the initial facility is validated, SucreSource and GS Caltex intend to jointly deploy future commercial-scale facilities in Korea and throughout the world.

“This agreement validates SucreSource’s business model of selling its cellulosic sugars and, as in this case, sugar-producing process to synergistic backend proprietary chemical companies to produce high-value product,” said Arnold Klann, president and CEO of BlueFire Renewables. “As a major petroleum producer, GS Caltex is a perfect partner with which to initiate the business build out. Korea, like the U.S., China and several other nations, is moving away from food-based sugars to produce high-end products such as biobutanol, ethanol, ethyl levulinate and various other chemicals. SucreSource is a first mover in this space and has the proven technology to meet this increasing cellulosic sugar demand head-on.”

Established November last year, SucreSource utilizes BlueFire Renewables’ proven and patented Arkenol concentrated acid hydrolysis process to convert a range of biomass into clean streams of cellulosic sugars. SucreSource has successfully piloted more than 15 biochemicals and biofuels derived from its cellulosic sugar such as biobutanol, ethanol, ethyl levulinate, esters, acetates, xylitol, sorbitol, citric acid and others.

Concurrently, BlueFire Renewables is working on completing construction of its 19 MMgy cellulosic ethanol project near Fulton, Calif., which will utilize wood waste in the region as feedstock. The first phase of construction began in December 2010 and was completed in June, with the remaining construction dependent on final financing for the complete project.