SunOpta Inc. (NASDAQ:STKL) (TSX:SOY) has provided an update on the four cellulosic ethanol projects which are or will be operational using SunOpta's patented technology and equipment to produce ethanol from cellulosic biomass.
Abengoa Bioenergy R&D Inc. (Abengoa)
Key components of SunOpta's patented equipment and technology have recently been shipped to Spain for the start up of the Abengoa wheat straw to ethanol facility. This project is expected to start up in the summer of 2007 (delayed from Dec 2006) and will be the first commercial production facility in the world producing cellulosic ethanol from wheat straw. Abengoa is the largest producer of ethanol in Europe.
This 5-million-liter per year (1.3-million-gallon per year) facility will be built in Babilafuente (Salamanca), Spain and is located adjacent to an existing 195-million-liter (52 million gallons per year) cereal grain to ethanol plant operated by Abengoa.
China Resources Alcohol Corporation (CRAC)
SunOpta provided its patented systems and technology to CRAC in September 2006 and the plant began production of ethanol from local corn stover in October 2006. The plant is a cellulosic ethanol pilot demonstration facility based on SunOpta's patented and proprietary biomass conversion technology, for research and development on cellulosic ethanol production at their facility in ZhaoDong City, Heilongjiang Province.
This facility is reported to be the first cellulosic ethanol production facility operational in the People's Republic of China. The SunOpta system is currently operating on a continuous basis and steps are currently being taken to scale the SunOpta process up to full commercial levels for use in future plants in China. CRAC has announced their intention to construct 5,000 tonnes per year (1.7 Million US gallons per year) of cellulosic ethanol capacity by the end of 2007 and 1,000,000 tonnes per year (330 million US gallons per year) by 2012 utilizing multiple lines of SunOpta’s proprietary process technology and equipment.
China has committed $5 billion to cellulosic ethanol production and recently announced that they would allow no further increase in ethanol production from starch (corn), due to the needs for starch as food.
Celunol Inc. (Celunol)SunOpta's patented equipment and technology will be used in a new Celunol facility being built in Jennings, Louisiana, to produce ethanol from sugarcane bagasse and wood. This will be the first commercial production of cellulosic ethanol plant in the United States and is scheduled to start up in the summer of 2007.
Celunol commenced operation of its newly expanded pilot facility in Jennings, Louisiana in November 2006. Located on a 140-acre Company-owned site, the Jennings pilot facility is designed initially to produce up to 50,000 gallons of ethanol per year, expanding to 1.4 million gallons upon completion of a larger-scale demonstration facility targeted for mid 2007. Later, the Company is considering a commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol facility at the site.
GreenField Ethanol Inc. (GreenField)
SunOpta has recently announced the formation of a Joint Venture with GreenField Ethanol Inc., Canada's largest producer of ethanol. The purpose of this Joint Venture is to design, build and jointly own and operate plants producing ethanol from wood chips. The first plant is planned to produce 10 million gallons of ethanol per year, which achieves the widely-accepted threshold for commercial scale cellulosic ethanol production and will demonstrate the immediate commercial viability of cellulosic ethanol.
GreenField and SunOpta are actively involved in selecting a site for the first plant in Ontario or Quebec. Subsequent plants will be in the range of 200 to 400 million liters (approximately 50 to 100 million gallons) per year capacity.
About SunOpta Inc.
SunOpta Inc.,Brampton, Ontario, Canada, is an operator of three business units: the SunOpta Food Group, the Opta Minerals Group, and the SunOpta BioProcess Group (soon to become SunOpta BioProcess Inc.) which engineers and markets proprietary steam explosion technology systems for the pulp, bio-fuel and food processing industries