Cobalt & American Process Partner to Produce Biobutanol

Joanna Schroeder

Renewable energy companies Cobalt Technologies and American Process Inc. have partnered to build an industrial-scale cellulosic biorefinery to produce biobutanol. In addition, the two companies will jointly market a GreenPower+ Biobutanol product to biomass power facilities and other customers globally. According to Cobalt, GreenPower+ Biobutanol technology selectively converts part of a boiler cellulosic biomass feedstock into renewable biobutanol, a chemical that is used widely in paints and other coatings. In addition, as a fuel, it can be used in renewable jet fuel among other transportation fuels.

As part of the partnership, Cobalt will integrate its continuous fermentation and distillation technology, that is currently pending a patent, into American Process’ plant under construction in Alpena, Michigan. The Alpena Biorefinery should begin producing ethanol in early 2012 and then will switch to produce biobutanol in mid 2012. Once in production, the plant will produce 470,000 gallons of biobutanol per year.

“We are excited to be partnering with American Process to commercialize our technology,” said Rick Wilson, Ph.D., and CEO of Cobalt Technologies. “The American Process Alpena Biorefinery plant gives us a great opportunity to demonstrate our technology at a commercial scale and provides an excellent model for how GreenPower+ Biobutanol technology can add value to biomass power facilities. We expect to move quickly from running the Alpena plant to building multi-million gallon facilities.”

The API Alpena Biorefinery is being funded in part by an $18 million DOE grant along with a $4 million grant from the state of Michigan. The plant will convert hemicelluloses extracted from woody biomass, to fermentable sugars that can be used for production of ethanol. Cobalt’s technology will convert these sugars into butanol.

“This partnership will demonstrate that GreenPower+ Biobutanol is an attractive value-added technology for biomass power projects worldwide,” said Theodora Retsina, Ph.D. and CEO of American Process. “At American Process, our focus has been the production of fermentable sugars from lignocellulosic feedstocks and Cobalt’s participation in the Alpena plant validates that we are on the right track. Cobalt’s biobutanol technology is a perfect complement to our GreenPower+ technology and we believe that the combination will appeal to customers.”

biobutanol, biofuels