Lux Research names Sweetwater Energy to quarterly top 10 list

By Erin Voegele | October 03, 2012

Lux Research has released its list of top 10 innovative companies profiled during the third quarter of 2012. The list includes cellulosic sugar manufacturer Sweetwater Energy Inc. The top 10 companies were selected from the 370 companies representing 15 different emerging technology domains that were profiled by Lux Research during the quarter as part of its ongoing intelligence services.

Sweetwater Energy, the only biorefining company included on this quarter’s list, was given a rating of wait and see. “We give that rating to companies that we think just need some time for either the space to mature, or for that particular company to begin to differentiate itself…on technology and business execution,” said Lux Research Analyst Kalib Kersh.

According to Kersh, the cellulosic pretreatment space is currently going through a period of intense progress, and companies are struggling to differentiate themselves from each other. There are a couple of things that led to Sweetwater Energy’s inclusion on the top 10 list, he continued. One is that Sweetwater Energy is not focusing on reinventing the wheel. Rather, the company sees itself as a technology integrator. “They are taking technologies that other people have been perfecting, and they are putting them together,” Kersh said, noting that Sweetwater is pursuing a sugar extraction process that employs a dilute acid treatment technology and enzymes. One feature of this process touted by the company is that the resulting cellulosic sugars are compatible with a broad range of fermentation technologies.  

“Another thing that really makes Sweetwater distinct is its pursuit of a hub and spoke model,” Kersh said. The model is built on a model where each “spoke” would process approximately 100 tons of cellulosic biomass per day. The extracted sugars would then be brought together at the “hub.” “The idea is that by processing the biomass closer to the fields you are going to separate out the less valuable water and non-sugar solids,” Kersh continued.