Cobalt Demonstrates Biomass Treatment Process

Cindy Zimmerman

Cobalt Technologies has announced a milestone in the commercial conversion of biomass to sugars with the successful demonstration of its biomass pretreatment process.

The company, which is developing next generation n-butanol, made the achievement in cooperation with ANDRITZ, a globally leading supplier of technologies, equipment and plants for the pulp and paper industry.

Cobalt conducted the testing in the ANDRITZ pulp and paper mill demonstration facility in Springfield, OH, which is specifically designed to validate new processes before commercial-scale implementation. Cobalt’s dilute acid hydrolysis pretreatment process, which extracts sugars from ligno-cellulosic biomass, was validated on woody biomass, bagasse and agricultural residues.

Cobalt tested its pre-treatment process on both a batch and continuous basis and reports that these runs, while processing up to 20 bone-dry tons of biomass per day, successfully extracted sugars from the biomass without the use of enzymes to produce the desired liquid hydrolysate – a liquid-based sugar that is then converted into n-butanol.

“The hydrolysates produced at ANDRITZ’s demonstration facility have been fermented successfully at our facility in Mountain View, California without the need of any conditioning to remove inhibitory compounds,” Bob Mayer, CEO of Cobalt Technologies. “By proving we can meet, and in some areas, exceed our commercial targets and cost metrics at this scale, we are now well positioned to leverage this critical milestone to support our on-going commercialization efforts.”

This milestone also marks the first phase of Cobalt’s partnership with specialty chemical company, Rhodia in Brazil to develop bio n-butanol refineries throughout Latin America utilizing bagasse as a feedstock.

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