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Cobalt and Andritz sign exclusive agreement for technology and engineering for production of cellulosic n-butanol

Cobalt Technologies, Inc. signed an exclusive global cooperation and supply agreement with Andritz Inc., the US subsidiary of international technology Group Andritz, to integrate Cobalt’s proprietary lignocellulosic pre-treatment process for the production of n-butanol with Andritz’s customized pre-treatment systems.

The primary alcohol n-butanol has traditionally been produced from fossil fuels. Engineered to achieve low production costs, Cobalt’s technology naturally converts both C5 and C6 sugars into bio-butanol, using any non-food lignocellulosic, renewable and sustainable feed-stock.

The bio-butanol can be used for a broad array of fuels and chemicals—including jet fuels, bio-based plastics, and synthetic rubber.

Cobalt’s technology is based on a bacterial fermentation of biomass sugars into butanol. Cobalt’s proprietary bacterial strain development technology improves the fermentation performance of a variety of naturally occurring strains selected for their ability to utilize all five of the sugars found in plant materials, including the 5-carbon sugars that cannot be fermented by common yeast.

The fermentation process differs from the traditional batch processes used today to convert starch to alcohol fuel in achieving continuous fermentation with peak production rates for extended periods of time. Continuous fermentation increases the overall productivity, reducing capital and operating costs.

Cobalt says that its continuous bioreactor system increases production rate as much as 11-fold over traditional batch fermentation processes.

In April 2013, Cobalt had reported the successful completion of a production campaign of n-butanol at a fermentation scale greater than 100,000 liters. That performance demonstrated scalability by replicating the performance previously obtained at both the 10-liter bench scale and the 4,000-liter pilot scale. This scale validation is a crucial stepping stone to finalizing any commercial project, since scale up to a commercial fermentor is under 10x, well within industry norms. (Earlier post.)

Combining Cobalt’s proprietary process expertise with Andritz’s extensive experience in designing and supplying biomass processing systems will provide the market place a solution for developing reliable, efficient, and cost-effective production facilities, Cobalt said.

Andritz supplies advanced pre-treatment technologies for biofuel production. These technologies are well-proven in other industrial processes and, through extensive R&D, have been modified by Andritz to satisfy the requirements for biofuel and biochemical producers.

We have worked extensively with Cobalt to develop commercially attractive and technically unique solutions. This partnership has clear advantages for the market and will provide excellent results for our customers and partners.

—Bertil Stromberg, Vice President of Andritz’s BioRefinery Division


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