SunOpta trying to beef up its biofuel unit

SunOpta Inc. of Brampton, Ont., sensing rising interest in the commercial production of cellulosic ethanol, is looking to raise up to $30 million (U.S.) to bolster cellulosic ethanol production and related process technologies. I’ve written about SunOpta before and the company appears well positioned in the market, even against better-known rivals such as Iogen Corp. of Ottawa. In August the company sold a biomass pretreatment and conversion system to Celunol Corp., a U.S.-based maker of cellulosic ethanol that counts Vinod Khosla as a major investor.

3 thoughts on “SunOpta trying to beef up its biofuel unit”

  1. I read an article in Journal Jewish Reform where Edwin Black, the author the book, “Internal Combustion: How Corporations and Governments Addicted the World to Oil and Derailed Alternatives,” was interviewed and he stated that the EROEI is rather high for cellulosic ethanol. Is this really true Tyler?



  2. It has the potential for high EROEI (energy return on energy investment), largely because it’s using forest and crop waste as the feedstock (i.e. no irrigation, fertilization and other costs associated with growing dedicated crops) and many of the residual material from the process can be used to fuel the process itself. I think the big problem is turning this potential into everyday practice. It’s still a new approach so there are no economies of scale and processes continue to be refined. I’m no expert on it, but that to me seems to be the basics.

  3. Tyler, Thanks for your prompt reply. I made an error in my original posting. My fault. Black actually says that the EROEI is negative and that it is energy intensive and reliant on fossil fuels to extract the ethanol from cellulosic fiber.

    He, unfortunately, draws the conclusion that a hydrogen economy powering hydrogen cars will get us off of our addiction to oil but he ignores the fact that the cheapest and the most oft proposed source for this hydrogen would come from methane which may be in short supply down the road if current estimates about Canada having only a 10 year supply of natural gas ring true.

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